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P021


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Navigating Power in Ocean Conservation 
Convenors:
Kyrstin Mallon Andrews (Miami University)
Jessica Vandenberg (University of Washington)
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Format:
Panel
Sessions:
Thursday 28 October, 13:00-14:30

Short Abstract:

This panel explores power regimes in ocean conservation, using ethnographic examples from Afro-Caribbean fishermen, Bajau turtlers, and anthropological researchers themselves to illustrate how colonial legacies inform ways of imagining and enacting protection for vulnerable maritime ecosystems.

Long Abstract

The places and communities in which anthropologists work are becoming increasingly entangled with politics, discourses, and power structures of conservation (Lowe 2013; Kirksey 2015; Moore 2019; West 2016). As plans for placing 30% of earth under protection by 2030 are underway, concern has risen that large-scale protection will perpetuate the marginalization and displacement of rural and coastal people. Given how oceans have featured centrally in discussions of changing climates, marine environments have received heightened attention, and communities who rely on them have become both interlocutors and obstacles for conservation projects. This panel explores power regimes in ocean conservation, asking how colonial legacies are embedded in ways of imagining and enacting protection for vulnerable maritime ecosystems. From Afro-Caribbean fishermen, to Indigenous Bajau turtlers in Indonesia, to ethnographic researchers themselves, this panel investigates the multiple scales at which conservation power dynamics manifest, and how people navigate them. Relationships between funding agents and researchers in coral reef restoration, conflicts between conservation laws and Indigenous regulatory regimes, and the ways conservation mimics structural adjustment policies through race relations and inequity all offer opportunities to explore how ocean conservation leans heavily on colonial precedents shaping relations of power in the Global South. Providing this critical perspective on the power dynamics that drive conservation agendas and relationships will allow a way forward for ocean stewardship that can be socially just and rooted in the local socio-cultural contexts in which conservation work is implemented.

Accepted papers:

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