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Consequences of 'Conservation': A Critical Look at Namibian Communal Conservancies

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Davis, A.P.
Conference: Sustaining Commons: Sustaining Our Future, the Thirteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Hyderabad, India
Conf. Date: January 10-14
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7179
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Africa
Subject(s): conservation
Abstract: "Each individual, organization and nation holds a different idea of 'conservation'. The concept is so intangible, yet widely regarded in the developed world as a moral ‘good’ and possibly even a moral duty, now that 'climate change' has become a household phrase. Conservation’s intangibility leaves much leeway through which unequalizing capitalist logic can maneuver. This paper addresses relationships among political, economic and social factors in the changes at play in the Kunene region of Northwestern Namibia, home to the indigenous Himba pastoral people and birthplace of the community conservation model. This post-structural political ecology approach in 'new ecological thinking' focuses on how the institutional nexus of power, wielded through wildlife conservation, restricts continuation of alternative livelihoods. Conservation, understood as inherently ‘good’ in the discourse of development, holds disadvantageous consequences for traditional livelihoods, as is seen upon investigation of community-based conservancies in Namibia and their effects upon the Himba people. The aforementioned claim is examined through the case of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) award-winning Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) program in Northwestern Namibia. This paper explores the theory that conservancies, and nature reserves at large, tend to be the ‘beginning of the end’ for pastoralist livelihoods, as applied to the Himba."

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