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Accepted Paper:

Participating in conservation: how researchers and practitioners can work together  
Fleur Nash (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents ideas on how researchers can work with practitioners in conservation by engaging with the messy reality on the ground. Working with practitioners can lead to ideas for how power relations can be shifted that are grounded in reality not ideology.

Paper long abstract:

A large amount of social research has focused on marginalised voices in conservation with the aim of bringing those voices to the decision making table. This has resulted in critical research on conservation organisations around how they design, implement and evaluate conservation practices. Critique is a valuable tool to enable people and organisations to question themselves and their practices. Yet critique from the outside, which is the form the majority of social research has taken in conservation, can fall on stubbornly closed ears. Conservation practitioners have pushed back against academic research, arguing that it is based in too much ideology and too little realism, resulting in a lack of understanding of the messy complex realities in which conservation organisations work. For critical social research to impact change on the ground, there is a need for researchers and practitioners to work together, not in silo. This presentation will share a story of a collaboration between a PhD researcher and practitioners in a conservation INGO and local organisation in Kenya. The story aims to highlight three main points. Firstly, switching the lends to ‘study up’ those stereotypically seen as having more ‘power’ can offer insights into how rights based conservation approaches can be achieved in reality. Secondly, working together with practitioners through participatory action research can result in implementable change on the ground. Thirdly, understanding one’s own and each other’s positionality, and, open and transparent communication are crucial to form a partnership that meets both partner’s needs.

Panel P050b
Transformations in the anthropology of conservation II
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -