8 JUN | What does it mean to decolonize conservation?

On June 8, CEI-Iscte organises a talk with Mara Goldman as invited speaker. The session will be held at Iscte (Building Ala Autonoma, room AA2.28) and is open to the general public.

What does it mean to decolonize conservation? Reflections with Maasai in East Africa

As the global community grapples with how to improve biodiversity conservation efforts, Indigenous communities around the world are demanding the process of conservation itself be decolonized. In this talk, I ask what this really means globally, and in the local contexts where I have worked. I present some aspects of my own approach through my book, Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing (University of Arizona Press, 2020). The book draws on over two decades of fieldwork among Maasai pastoralists in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. In the book, I seek to unsettle established ways of knowing, talking about, and managing human-wildlife relations and wildlife conservation in these landscapes and beyond, where Euro-American scientific approaches have historically dominated. I center customary Maasai knowledge production and presentation processes—in the form of narratives and the use of an active Maasai meeting/dialogue, the enkiguena. In challenging existing conservation models and the boundaries on which they rely (dividing people/nature, wild/domestic, and science/all other ways of knowing and being with nature), I ask what it might mean to talk about decolonizing conservation globally.

About the speaker

Dr. Goldman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, with affiliations at the Institute for Behavioral Sciences, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the Centro for International Studies, the University of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL). She has a PhD in Geography and an MS in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a human-environment geographer, drawing from political ecology, science studies, and indigenous/decolonial scholarship to explore knowledge politics related to conservation and development in Southern African and South Asia. Studies. She has worked with Maasai communities in Tanzania and Kenya for over two decades on the politics of knowledge surrounding wildlife conservation, rangeland management, and climate change adaptation. She co-edited Knowing Nature: Conversations at the Intersection of Political Ecology and Science Studies (2011) and authored Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing (2020), and has published in geography, conservation and development journals.


CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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