Sian Sullivan

Sian Sullivan
Bath Spa University · School of Writing Humanities

PhD Anthropology
the-natural-capital-myth.net | www.etosha-kunene-histoires.net | www.futurepasts.net

About

154
Publications
55,150
Reads
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3,758
Citations
Citations since 2016
65 Research Items
2288 Citations
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Additional affiliations
September 2007 - December 2013
Birkbeck, University of London
Position
  • Senior Lecturer in Environment and Development

Publications

Publications (154)
Article
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In response to perceived valuation problems giving rise to global environmental crisis, ‘nature’ is being qualified, quantified and materialised as the new external(ised) ‘Nature-whole’ of ‘natural capital’. This paper problematises the increasing legibility, through numbering and (ac)counting practices, of natural capital as an apparently exterior...
Article
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In his Lectures on Biopolitics (1978-79) Foucault highlighted the contemporary intensification of neoliberal arts of government, by which economic incentive structures are designed to control human behaviour and ‘life itself’ through market transactions framed as enhancing efficiency in the distribution of goods and bads. The human subject of this...
Chapter
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Damara / ≠Nūkhoen peoples are usually understood in historical and ethnographic texts for Namibia to be amongst the territory’s ‘oldest’ or ‘original’ inhabitants. Similarly, histories written or narrated by Damara / ≠Nūkhoen peoples include their self-identification as original inhabitants of large swathes of Namibia’s central and north-westerly l...
Book
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"Negotiating Climate Change in Crisis" brings together 28 essays by over 60 researchers from around the world, who are concerned about climate change and the outcomes of the forthcoming 26th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. ‘COP26’ will take place in Glasgow in November 2021. Climate change negoti...
Article
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Mapping new administrative domains for integrating conservation and development, and defining rights in terms of both new policy and the citizenry governed thereby, have been central to postcolonial neoliberal environmental governance programmes known as Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM). Examples now abound of the complex, ambig...
Article
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Le travail de cartographie des nouveaux domaines administratifs en vue de promouvoir la conservation et le développement, ainsi que la redéfinition des droits dans le cadre des nouvelles politiques et concepts de citoyenneté qui émergent de ce processus, sont deux éléments centraux des programmes s’inscrivant dans un mouvement de gouvernance enviro...
Article
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The project ‘Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts’ forming the focus of this Special Issue has researched biographical experiences that have undergone a rupture as a result of brutal political, social and/or economic changes, linked especially with war, colonization/decolonization, migration and exile. These personal biographical experiences have t...
Article
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This introductory paper outlines the conceptual framework and case studies comprising the research project Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts. Our project proposes a cross-disciplinary analysis and cross-case synthesis of experience and memory in post-conflict and postcolonial contexts. In the post- conflict and colonial contexts of our cases, we...
Article
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Ce texte introductif présente le cadre conceptuel des études de cas traités dans ce numéro consacré aux Histoires Perturbées, Passés Retrouvés. Nous proposons ici une analyse interdisciplinaire et une synthèse croisée de l’expérience et de la mémoire dans des contextes post-conflits et postcoloniaux. Articulant une perspective anthropologique et hi...
Article
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Comme mentionné dans le texte introductif de ce numéro spécial, l’une des ambitions transversales du projet de recherche « Histoires Perturbées, Passés Retrouvés » a été de mettre au point un moyen de « faire ensemble », que nous appelons ici « analyse croisée ». Étant donné l’étendue et la spécificité de nos études de cas, ce procédé s’est avéré d...
Research
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The Etosha-Kunene Histories research project has just published its first "Special Report". The report offers a fresh overview and synthesis of the prior work of the project's lead investigators. This work stretches back over three decades, and underscores the Etosha-Kunene Histories project. Abstract: This report presents a weave of prior work pr...
Article
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We respond to two rejoinders to our review article “Science for Success,” which proposed fuller contextualization of epistemological approach, researcher position and interests in conservation research. This way readers—including reviewers and journal editors—can better understand and interpret findings. We suggest this contextualization is particu...
Chapter
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This chapter introduces a historical cultural mapping project in west Namibia documenting childhood memories of former dwelling places, particularly in Sesfontein and Purros conservancies and the Palmwag tourism concession. The research draws into focus past practices of dwelling, mobility, livelihood and environmental perception amongst Khoekhoego...
Technical Report
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The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a threatened species of which the south-western subspecies (D. bicornis bicornis, synonym D. bicornis occidentalis) persists on communal land and elsewhere in Namibia. It does so despite its clearance from most of the animal’s former range due to the expansion of colonial-era hunting with firearms, and the...
Article
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The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a threatened species of which the south-western subspecies (D. bicornis bicornis, synonym D. bicornis occidentalis) persists on communal land and elsewhere in Namibia. It does so despite its clearance from most of the animal’s former range due to the expansion of colonial-era hunting with firearms, and th...
Technical Report
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This report shares documented information for Indigenous cultural heritage and histories associated with the Northern Namib, designated since 1971 as the Skeleton Coast National Park. The paper draws on two principal sources of information: 1) historical documents stretching back to the late 1800s; and 2) oral history research with now elderly peop...
Chapter
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In recent years I have returned to west Namibia to work with elders of families I have known for more than two decades. Oral histories, recorded as we find and revisit places my companions knew as home, have increasingly struck a chord as a record of lives lived largely untouched by fossil fuels. As the complexity of these pasts has come further in...
Chapter
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The last major UNFCCC COP Agreement—the so-called Paris Agreement of COP21 in 2015—emphasised international cooperation through market-based instruments. International carbon trading was insisted on, so as to (seemingly) allow mitigation, rather than reduction/cessation, of emissions from industrial production. Repeated utterances of the positive i...
Chapter
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This essay draws on repeat landscape photography to explore and juxtapose different cultural and scientific understandings of environmental change and sustainability in west Namibia. Change in the landscape ecology of western and central Namibia over the last 140 years has been investigated using archival landscape photographs located and re-photog...
Article
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We explore interconnected texts in a 'coloniser archive' of stories, songs and historic narratives in Khoekhoegowab, recorded by German linguist Ernst Dammann and his wife Ruth in Namibia in 1953-1954 and housed in Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Switzerland. We outline the 're-ordering' strategy enabling us to 'release' information caught by the Dam...
Chapter
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This introduction to "Negotiating Climate Change in Crisis" positions the volume as an intervention, collecting together indicative contributions regarding what social scientists, humanities scholars and climate activists around the world think needs to be done in terms of both understanding why climate action has failed to dramatically reduce emis...
Technical Report
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Abstract. Polyphonic music played by ensembles of male flautists and accompanied by song-stories sung primarily by women has been recorded over the last 500 years for Khoekhoegowab-speaking peoples in southern Africa. Fragmented and disrupted through dramatic changes wrought by the expanding frontier of the Cape Colony, and later in Namibia throug...
Chapter
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How can we map differing perceptions of the living environment? Mapping the Unmappable? explores the potential of cartography to communicate the relations of Africa's indigenous peoples with other human and non-human actors within their environments. These relations transcend Western dichotomies such as culture-nature, human-animal, natural-superna...
Article
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Namibia's internationally acclaimed CBNRM program depends to a large extent on revenues generated from the trophy hunting of wild animals. The model is an important example of an increasingly 'neoliberal' global policy framework as applied to biodiversity conservation, its market-based approach and attendant socio-ecological effects having received...
Article
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We report on a rapid survey of five communal-area conservancies in Namibia to understand initial impacts on community-based conservation of national and international policies for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Namibia’s Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme has been growing for over 30 years, with high economic relian...
Article
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This paper emphasizes the importance of researcher position and reflexivity for professionals in the ecological and development sciences. We draw on critical discourse analysis (CDA) to analyze a selection of scientific papers written by Namibian Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) professionals and their relationships with public d...
Article
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This article identifies an emerging faultline in critical geography and political ecology scholarship by reviewing recent debates on three neoliberal environmental governance initiatives: Payments for Ecosystem Services, the United Nations programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries and carbon-...
Chapter
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In the 1990s the Secretary General of the 1992 UN ‘Earth Summit’ and initiator of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Maurice Strong) asserted in a series of widely quoted lectures that ‘global sustainability’ could only be achieved through the principles of business: “Earth Incorporated” should thus be run ‘with a depreciation,...
Article
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Given a history in political ecology of challenging hegemonic “scientific” narratives concerning environmental problems, the current political moment presents a potent conundrum: how to (continue to) critically engage with narratives of environmental change while confronting the “populist” promotion of “alternative facts.” We ask how political ecol...
Chapter
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This chapter consists of an overview of the programme of research and the scope of the book which simultaneously introduces the research protocol on valuation that was developed and deployed empirically, an overview of the empirical case studies covered in the book, and signposts the theoretical contributions to be made.
Chapter
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Reviews the etymologies and concepts that were chosen as having utility in our research programme and which are core and cognate to valuation studies. This chapter covers the schools of economic sociology, Marxian valuation theory, ANT theory and technology studies, institutional theory and assemblages, and the concepts of performativity and measur...
Chapter
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This chapter highlights the value assumptions underscoring the recent and contested emergence of debt-based financing for the conservation of 'standing natures' in situ. In the aftermath of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris climate agreement of late 2015, there has been a noticeable proliferation of policy pub...
Preprint
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Title: Bonding nature(s)? Funds, financiers and values at the impact investing edge in environmental conservation Abstract: This chapter highlights the value assumptions underscoring the recent and contested emergence of debt-based financing for the conservation of ‘standing natures’ in situ. In the aftermath of the United Nations Framework Conven...
Technical Report
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Reflecting on more than twenty years engagement with the idea that development and economic growth are essential for ensuring environmental conservation and sustainability, a key experience for me has been that of dissonance. In this talk I draw on the concept of ‘dissonance’ as explored some decades ago by psychologist Leon Festinger in A Theory o...
Chapter
The chapter considers the environmental ethics underlying certain practices and beliefs observed in the course of field research with primarily ‖Khao-a Dama people in west Namibia. ‖Khao-a Dama perspectives embody a type of “relational environmental ethics” that refracts anthropocentric/ecocentric dichotomies, and is characterized by respect for, a...
Chapter
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This chapter brings ‖Khao-a Dama perspectives from present-day Namibia into dialogue with ancient Confucianism. These two extremely different approaches find common ground in that both refract the sharp distinction often posited between anthropocentric and ecocentric approaches to environmental ethics. In each case, anthropology and history are bot...
Technical Report
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This working paper outlines the conceptual framework and case studies comprising the research project Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts. Our project proposes a cross-disciplinary analysis and cross-case synthesis of experience and memory in post-conflict and postcolonial contexts. In the postconflict and colonial contexts of our cases, we see ‘d...
Article
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This engagement highlights the antagonism between wealth and the commodity value form posed at the heart of Marx’s work. In doing so, it considers methodological possibilities for both understanding and intervening in the fabricating of new alienated capitalist values from beyond-human natures.
Article
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Contemporary market-based (i.e. neoliberal) 'green economy' approaches to environmental degradation emphasise exchanges whereby quantified units of environmental harm are traded or 'offset' for compensating units of environmental health. Also encouraged is a view that economic growth can be 'greened' through 'decoupling' economic value from materia...
Article
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Purpose To consider and compare different ways of using numbers to value aspects of nature-beyond-the-human through case analysis of ecological and natural capital accounting practices in the UK that create standardised numerical-monetary values for beyond-human natures. In addition, to contrast underlying ontological and ethical assumptions of th...
Poster
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In July and August 2017, the Future Pasts research project will be holding an exhibition hosted by Bath Spa University in connection with our Research Centre in Environmental Humanities. Held at Gallery 44AD in the centre of Bath, the exhibition brings together images, music and video installations made in collaboration with people and organisation...
Article
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The contemporary moment of global ecological crisis is also a moment wherein ‘nature’ is being named and framed as ‘natural capital’. This article considers aspects of this fabrication of ‘natural capital’, drawing attention to three connected processes: [1] commensuration, through which different elements of the natural world are made to correspon...
Book
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A multi-media exhibition at Gallery44AD, Bath, UK. 12 July – 12 August 2017.
Book
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What is valuable in society and how shall we protect it? For conventional economists and politicians, the basic answer is simple: value is more or less the same as price. Value is the product of private property and “free markets” that distill countless individual preferences into a single, neutral, economic sum. While this theory of value has alw...
Article
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This paper describes and analyses applied practices creating numerical equivalence between sites of development impact and proposed conservation offset sites in the new conservation technology of biodiversity offsetting. Application of biodiversity offsetting metrics in development impact and mitigation assessments is considered to standardize biod...
Article
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Natural history films use technological mediations to frame aspects of nature so as to communicate information, in part through engendering particular viewer affects. As an entertainment industry embedded in capitalist social relations and concerned with competition for finance and ratings, natural history film-making is also a search for ‘the mone...
Book
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Contributions to Law, Philosophy and Ecology: Exploring Re-Embodiments is a preliminary contribution to the establishment of re-embodiments as a theoretical strand within legal and ecological theory, and philosophy. Re-embodiments are all those contemporary practices and processes that exceed the epistemic horizon of modernity. As such, they offer...
Chapter
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A Utopian dream is etched into the modern militant imaginary. A dream of revolution as rupture. An ecstatic storming of the Bastille, of the Winter Palace. Animated by a longing for something different, by fear in the face of repression, and by the (im)possibility of victory. ‘Under the cobblestones, the beach’ — the revolutionaries of 1968 wrote o...
Conference Paper
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Modern biodiversity conservation in southern Africa is replete with reference to the value(s) of 'the wild'. 'Last wildernesses' become conservation areas, 'wilderness schools' encourage human experiences of a transcendent 'wild nature', and 'game' farming and trophy hunting are framed as economically necessary for the sustenance of 'wildlife'. The...
Article
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The snake is a potent entity in many cultures across the world, and is a noticeable global theme in rock art and inscribed landscapes. We mobilise our long-term ethnographic research with southern African KhoeSan peoples to situate and interpret the presence of snake motifs in the region’s rock art. We contextualise the snake as a transformative on...
Article
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Current market-based approaches to environmental governance for conservation and sustainability tend to disaggregate non-human natures into discrete units to which monetary value can attach, and release these new units into markets of circulating commodities through which they may accrue more ‘value’. As Bram Büscher and James Igoe describe and the...
Article
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This paper explores the potential for an environmental justice framing to shed new light on conservation controversies. We argue that, in order to make such progress, environmental justice analysis will need to provide a ‘difference-friendly’ conception of justice and that this will necessarily involve moving beyond dominant liberal conceptions of...
Article
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Biodiversity offsets are part of a new suite of biodiversity conservation instruments designed to mitigate the impacts of economic developments on species, habitats and ecosystems. Led by an international collaboration of representatives from companies, financial institutions, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Business and...
Article
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In this paper I emphasise the financialisation of environmental conservation as 1. the turning of financiers to conservation parameters as a new frontier for investment, and 2. the rewriting of conservation practice and nonhuman worlds in terms of banking and financial categories. I introduce financialisation as a broadly controlling impetus with r...
Article
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A short introductory essay
Article
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In this paper we investigate the long-term development of the former centrally planned countries, such as the former Soviet Union republics, Central and Eastern Europe, since the beginning of the twentieth century. In particular, we consider the impact of the pursuit of economic growth in the region with a focus on environmental and social conseque...
Chapter
Book synopsis: Natural History filmmaking has a long history but the generic boundaries between it and environmental and conservation filmmaking are blurred. Nature, environment and animal imagery has been a mainstay of television, campaigning organisations and conservation bodies from Greenpeace to the Sierra Club, with vibrant images being used e...