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Accepted Paper:

Reflections on a life on the lawn - grassroots as the base of all things real  
Debbie Whelan (University of Lincoln)

Paper short abstract:

'Grassroots' as a term comes out of post-modern development speak and is firmly rooted in neo-liberal practice, particularly in the developing world. Three decades of experience working in development and conservation, both built and natural heritage, forms the basis of this paper.

Paper long abstract:

Development in late apartheid South Africa was largely led by NGOs who were internationally funded and were engaged directly with communities using sustainable development principles. These included grassroots development, stakeholder participation and broadened consultation - all elements which were lacking in the top-down development initiatives of the Nationalist Government. Because of this, working within the conservation industry, transfer of these principles in practice in both environmental and built environment conservation, is well-documented. This is in addition to preferential legislations which support indigenous priorities and perceptions and market the panacea of tourism as a sustainable and viable form of community development and social mobility.

At the same time, these practices have become bywords of the current government, but often given lip-service which minimises the impacts of the basic principles. Further, it is rapidly emerging that the fundamentally western-based legislations which have been promulgated since 1994 allow for multiple interpretations which complicates the issue. This paper critically addresses these principles by bringing to light nuances, challenges and dark areas of interculturality which are useful factors in considering in conservation work, and also raises alerts to remaining anthropologically mobile and agile in planning, implementation of methodologies and interpreting information in a post-truth and post-colonial world.

Panel P007b
Challenges and Opportunities for Grassroots Conservation
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 October, 2021, -