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Towards ‘Convivial Conservation’: Radical Ideas for Saving Nature in the Anthropocene

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 23 May 2017
Time: 13:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Prof Bram Büscher, Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University and Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Professor, UCT

In the Anthropocene - our alleged new phase of world history in which humans dominate the earth-system and the concept of ‘nature’ has become obsolete - the question of how to pursue conservation has become acute. We have recently seen several radical proposals for reforming conservation and the rise of heated debates around them. One proposal, ‘new’ or ‘Anthropocene’ conservation, asserts that humans must take their anthropocenic domination of nonhuman processes seriously and manage them to maximize both long-term sustainability and economic development. This position has been met by a radical resurgence of neo-protectionism. Proponents of the latter view shun the development responsibilities of conservation and call (again) for a drastic expansion of strictly enforced protected areas, which many now believe should cover ‘at least’ half the earth’s surface. This presentation provides an evaluation of and reflection on these radical conservation proposals and their implications for thinking about development. It argues that both proposals hold important seeds for necessary radical change but that each on its own contains untenable, even dangerous contradictions. This presentation develops and proposes an alternative fourth position, namely ‘convivial conservation’. It shows that ‘convivial conservation’ is the only radical conservation proposal that starts from a political ecological position centered on a critique of contemporary capitalism and concomitant, dichotomous ideas about (saving) nature. It builds on this to turn conservation into a force that promotes rather than protects, that celebrates rather than saves, and that is fully recognized as an important element of creating a more equal global society.

Follow seminar live on twitter: @PLAASuwc #ConvivialConservation #NatureConservation