Author:Karin Patzke (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Paper short abstract:
As landowners participate in citizen science conservation policies, property rights are reinforced, ignoring larger ecosystems and landscapes. Through discursive and genre analysis, I examine these efforts and shed new light on the contradictory practices resulting from citizen science initiatives.
Paper long abstract:
As citizens become collaborators with scientists in biodiversity conservation projects, the material practices of conservation adjust to address the everyday practices of environmental conservation. Often identified as cultural scripts, these negotiations in practice account for the cultural values at play in local communities (Heasley 2005, Jørgensen 2013 and Armitage 2013). However, these novel practices of citizen scientists often reflect contradictory values and perspectives that, when examined, highlight tensions in policy initiatives that promote citizen science participation but limit the effectiveness of the policy. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Central Texas in the US with state agents and landowners over several years, I examine how participation in citizen science programs privileges property rights but fails to account for the landscape beyond the individual's property, resulting in piecemeal efforts across a wider landscape of development. Specifically I examine how citizen science programs that highlight species census monitoring act as legitimating practices for conservation on private lands within the state's wildlife management policy initiative. I argue that as individual landowners in Texas participate in large-scale citizen science efforts, they reinforce political boundaries while ignoring larger ecosystems and landscapes. Through discursive and genre analysis, this project closely examines biodiversity conservation efforts and sheds new light on the contradictory practices that result from citizen science based policy initiatives.
Citizen science: Beyond the laboratory