1st Edition

Nature's Saviours Celebrity Conservationists in the Television Age

By Graham Huggan Copyright 2013
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    Today's celebrity conservationists, many of whom made their reputations through television and other visual media, play a major role in drawing public attention to an increasingly threatened world. This book, one of the first to address this contribution, focuses on five key figures: the English naturalist David Attenborough, the French marine adventurer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the American primatologist Dian Fossey, the Canadian scientist-broadcaster-activist David Suzuki, and the Australian 'crocodile hunter' Steve Irwin.

    Some of the issues the author addresses include: What is the changing relationship between western conservation and celebrity? How has the spread of television helped shape and mediate this relationship? To what extent can celebrity conservation be seen as part of a global system in which conservation, like celebrity, is big business? The book critically examines the heroic status accorded to the five figures mentioned above, taking in the various discourses – around nature, science, nation, gender – through which they and their work have been presented to us. In doing so, it fills in the cultural, historical and ideological background behind contemporary celebrity conservationism as a popular expression of a chronically endangered world.


    Dan Brockington 

    1. Introduction 

    2. A is for Attenborough 

    3. Lives Aquatic: Underwater with the Cousteaus 

    4. Requiem for Dian: Myth, Memory, Mediation 

    5. Suzuki: The Scientist as Moralist 

    6. Crocodile Tears: The Life and Death of Steve Irwin 

    7. Afterword


    Graham Huggan is Professor of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Leeds, UK. His research spans the entire field of comparative postcolonial literary/cultural studies, with further interests in the areas of ecocriticism, travel writing, short fiction, and film.

    "As Huggan himself observes, the lack of scholarly attention paid to such prominent figures as Attenborough is astonishing; so is the lack of critical comparative biography on famous conservationists; and so is the lack of attention to the work of television in forging environmental consciousness. Huggan has begun work here that now needs to be taken up by others. He has provided an excellent introduction to this task." – From the Foreword by Dan Brockington, University of Manchester, UK 

    "This book introduces a new and compelling field of interdisciplinary studies. Reading across the fields of celebrity studies, cultural and media studies, history of science and postcolonialism, Nature’s Saviours takes our favourite celebrity conservationists and questions how we see nature and culture, commerce and conservation, and the world of human and nonhuman creatures." – Gillian Whitlock, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia

    "This is a scholarly and challenging critique of the links between wildlife television and conservation. From David Attenborough to Steve Irwin, television has provided a powerful medium through which highly charismatic presenters have framed exotic wild nature for generations of armchair naturalists. Graham Huggan explores how it is done, and discusses the significance of the result." – Bill Adams, University of Cambridge, UK

    "Nature's Saviours takes readers on a critically evaluative journey that will forever change their passive and simple viewing of much-loved television shows such as Planet Earth and The Crocodile Hunter. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic and general library collections." - B. A. Losoff, University of Colorado at Boulder in CHOICE

    "Huggan’s work makes an important and original contribution to conservation advocacy. More broadly, his work also lays a foundation for re-examining the nature of social and ecological interactions–an important and ongoing process in achieving sustainability in an increasingly dynamic system." – Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, Dana Thomsen, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

    "Besides the obvious value of this engagingly written book to students and scholars of green, cultural, and media studies, I wonder also what more could be said by way of application of Huggan’s insights about celebrity conservationism to the practical work of conservation…"Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, Anthony Nanson, Bath Spa University, UK