ENV 839a/ANTH 597 () / 2023-2024

Power in Conservation

Credits: 3
Fall 2023: W, 1:00-3:50, Sage 32

This course examines the anthropology of power, particularly power in conservation interventions in the global South.  It is intended to give students a tool-box of ideas about power in order to improve the effectiveness of conservation. Conservation thought and practice is power laden—conservation thought is powerfully shaped by the history of ideas of nature and its relation to people, and conservation interventions govern and affect peoples and ecologies. This course argues that being able to think deeply, particularly about power, improves conservation policy-making and practice.  
Political ecology is by far the most well-known and well-published approach to thinking about power in conservation; this course emphasizes the relatively neglected but robust anthropology of conservation literature outside political ecology, especially literature rooted in Foucault. It is intended to make four of Foucault’s concepts of power accessible, concepts that are the most used in the anthropology of conservation: the power of discourses, discipline and governmentality, subject formation, and neoliberal governmentality.  The important ethnographic literature that these concepts have stimulated is also examined.  Together, theory and ethnography can underpin our emerging understanding of a new, Anthropocene-shaped world.
 This course will be of interest to students and scholars of conservation, environmental anthropology and political ecology, as well as conservation practitioners and policymakers.  It is a required course for students in the joint YSE/Anthropology doctoral degree.  It is highly recommended for MESc students who need an in-depth course on social science theory. MEM students interested in conservation practice and policy-making are also encouraged to consider this course, which makes an effort to bridge the gap between the best academic literature and practice.  It is also open to advanced undergraduate students. No prerequisites. Three hour discussion-centered seminar.

ENV 839 is a prerequisite for:
ENV 693: Advanced Readings: Social Science of Development and Conservation