1st Edition

Power in Conservation Environmental Anthropology Beyond Political Ecology

By Carol Carpenter Copyright 2020
    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    230 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book examines theories and ethnographies related to the anthropology of power in conservation.

    Conservation thought and practice is power laden—conservation thought is powerfully shaped by the history of ideas of nature and its relation to people, and conservation interventions govern and affect peoples and ecologies. This book argues that being able to think deeply, particularly about power, improves conservation policy-making and practice. Political ecology is by far the most well-known and well-published approach to thinking about power in conservation. This book analyzes the relatively neglected but robust anthropology of conservation literature on politics and power outside political ecology, especially literature rooted in Foucault. It is intended to make four of Foucault’s concepts of power accessible, concepts that are most used in the anthropology of conservation: the power of discourses, discipline and governmentality, subject formation, and neoliberal governmentality. The important ethnographic literature that these concepts have stimulated is also examined. Together, theory and ethnography underpin our emerging understanding of a new, Anthropocene-shaped world.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of conservation, environmental anthropology, and political ecology, as well as conservation practitioners and policy-makers.


    1. Introduction

    2. Discourses and their Power in Foucault

    3. Seminal Works on the Power of Discourses

    4. Discourses of Conservation

    5. The Triangle in Foucault

    6. Sovereignty, Discipline, and Governmentality in Ethnographies

    7. States and Centers, Simplifying and Calculating

    8. Articulations between Knowledges in Ethnographies

    9. Subject Formation in Foucault

    10. Subject Formation in Ethnographies

    11. Capitalism and Neoliberal Governmentality in Foucault

    12. Cultivating Neoliberal Subjects in Ethnographies

    13. The Economy in Ethnographies

    14. The Invisibility of Implementation and Governmentality

    15. Practices of Assemblage and Assemblages of Effects

    16. Universals, Collaborations, and Global Agreements

    17. World-Making in the Anthropocene

    18. Conclusion



    Carol Carpenter is Senior Lecturer in the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University, US. She is co-editor of Environmental Anthropology: A Historical Reader (2007).

    "Power in Conservation is that wide-ranging and accessible, but cutting-edge introduction to contemporary conservation, social science and theory for which students, researchers. and practitioners alike have been searching. Carpenter provides to the curious reader a deep analytic exploration, one that will repay reading with useful tools and unexpected insights in every chapter of this brilliant book."Arun Agrawal, Professor, School for Environent and Sustainability, University of Michigan, USA

      "In this bold, workmanlike and approachable overview of the anthropological literature, Carol Carpenter engages with the theoreticians and significant ethnographic studies that underpin our emerging understanding of a new Anthropocene-shaped world. It is Foucault and his interpreters who dominate this new synthesis, and nuanced ethnographic accounts that show us the links between power and knowledge, sovereignty and governmentality, and which take us beyond the paradigm of 'political ecology'. A magnificent synthesis."Roy Ellen, Centre of Biocultural Diversity, University of Kent, UK

      "Carol Carpenter provides a clear and usable – but not simplified - theoretical tool kit for understanding power in conservation, and explains why a fine-grained, ethnographic attention to the workings of power is essential for effective conservation practice. Her rigor is impressive, and the implications of her analysis are profound. A masterful contribution."Tania Li, Professor of Anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada

      "The book is written in an accessible textbook style to introduce Foucault's key ideas and to show how seminal works in anthropology of conservation and development have drawn on these ideas and developed them further since the 1990s. The book will be particularly of interest to undergraduate and graduate students in political ecology, geography, anthropology, development and environmental studies, and conservation biology and environmental management."Jevgeniy Bluwstein, Geographica Helvetica, Volume 76, Issue 1