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Accepted Paper:

Elusive and charismatic animals in the making and unmaking of Turkish wetlands' livable nature  
Caterina Scaramelli (Amherst College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper demonstrates the nature of wetlands habitats is never given, but rather the outcome of situated cultural work. It examines the work of Turkish conservationists as they create and recreate wetlands' "livable natures," following the muddy, leafy, and watery paths of wetland animals.

Paper long abstract:

Wetlands have often been valued as habitat for animal species. In the early 20th century, concurrently with large-scale drainage and reclamation projects, wetlands started to be protected and managed as breeding grounds for waterbirds. In the late 20th century, conservation scientists reframed the value of wetlands — incorporating concerns ranging from biodiversity, to ecosystem services, climate change and, recently, human cultures. I demonstrate that assessment of the wetlands' natural habitats are never given, but rather are the outcome of contingent cultural work. I examine the work of conservationists, educators, and state officials in contemporary Turkey as they create and recreate wetlands' "livable natures" in two protected areas, complex landscapes of shifting agroeconomies — the Gediz delta on the Aegean and the Kızılırmak delta on the Black Sea. I follow the muddy, leafy, and watery paths of waterbirds, water buffalos, and feral horses. Turkish conservation experts debate over wetland animal species, asking questions about their status — wild or domestic, native or invasive — and about the ecologies communities of animals produce in different regimes of rural land use at the edge of conservation areas. Rather than staking claims based on preconceived notions of nativeness and invasion, and symbolic and religious meanings, experts engage with and make sense of the agency of animal practice in changing lived ecologies. The mundane work of conservation involves the performance of different kinds of scientific and technical work of boundary making, deliberating over who — human and non-human— has the right to live and work in and represent wetlands.

Panel P057
The return of the wild: fears, hopes, strategies. Ethnographic encounters in wildlife management in Europe
  Session 1