Changing Protection Policies and Ethnographies of Environmental Engagement

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"Attempts to protect nature by control of human intervention in areas demarcated for biodiversity have given rise to difficult questions of practicality and social justice. This introduction to a set of studies by anthropologists on the relationship between conservation and local community responses to protection measures, looks at the twin processes of rethinking conservation in socially inclusive ways and theoretical developments in viewing human relationships with environments that emphasise their interactive qualities. Whereas oppositional contrasts between nature and society characterised both conservation and anthropology in most of the twentieth century, more mutualistic frameworks are now emergent. Participatory conservation seeks to give voice to local concerns and indigenous perspectives, while social theory has increasingly recognised the cultural and political baggage that accompanies attempts to impose natural states on environments characterised by histories of human environmental engagement. A central focus is given to the dynamics of place in this special issue, so that the impacts of global agendas for nature protection are viewed from the grounded positions of peoples lives and their ways of thinking about and dealing with the changes brought about by conservation measures, which reconfigure relations of community, territory and resources."
anthropology, protected areas, community participation, conservation, indigenous knowledge