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Global Hunting Grounds: Power, Scale and Ecology in the Negotiation of Conservation


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Increasingly, large international conservation organizations have come to rely upon market-oriented interventions, such as sport trophy hunting, to achieve multiple goals of biodiversity protection and ‘development’. Such initiatives apply an understanding of ‘nature’-defined through an emerging discourse of global ecology-to incorporate local ecologies within the material organizational sphere of capital and transnational institutions, generating new forms of governmentality at scales inaccessible to traditional means of discipline such as legislation and enforcement. In this paper, I historicize debates over ‘nature’ in a region of northern Pakistan, and demonstrate how local ecologies are becoming subject to transnational institutional agents through strategies similar to those used by colonial administrators to gain ecological control over their ‘dominions’. This contemporary reworking of a colonialist ethic of conservation relies rhetorically on a discourse of global ecology, and on ideological representations of a resident population as incapable environmental managers, to assert and implement an allegedly scientifically and ethically superior force better able to respond to assumed degradation. In undertaking such disciplinary projects, international conservation organizations rely on, and produce, a representation of ecological space as ‘global’ to facilitate the attainment of translocal political-ecological goals.
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Global hunting grounds: power,
scale and ecology in the
negotiation of conservation
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
Department of Geography, University of Toronto
Increasingly, large international conservation organizations have come to rely upon market-oriented
interventions, such as sport trophy hunting, to achieve multiple goals of biodiversity protection and
‘development’. Such initiatives apply an understanding of ‘nature’
/defined through an emerging
discourse of global ecology
/to incorporate local ecologies within the material organizational sphere
of capital and transnational institutions, generating new forms of governmentality at scales
inaccessible to traditional means of discipline such as legislation and enforcement. In this paper, I
historicize debates over ‘nature’ in a region of northern Pakistan, and demonstrate how local
ecologies are becoming subject to transnational institutional agents through strategies similar to those
used by colonial administrators to gain ecological control over their ‘dominions’. This contemporary
reworking of a colonialist ethic of conservation relies rhetorically on a discourse of global ecology,
and on ideological representations of a resident population as incapable environmental managers, to
assert and implement an allegedly scientifically and ethically superior force better able to respond to
assumed degradation. In undertaking such disciplinary projects, international conservation organiza-
tions rely on, and produce, a representation of ecological space as ‘global’ to facilitate the attainment
of translocal political-ecological goals.
Then through the new-washed air, steaming with delicious earth-smells, the Babu led the way down the
slopes-walking ahead of the coolies in pride; walking behind the foreigners in humility. His thoughts were
many and various. The least of them would have interested his companions beyond words. But he was an
agreeable guide, ever keen to point out the beauties of his royal master’s domain. He peopled the hills with
anything they had a mind to slay
/ thar, ibex, or markhor, and bear by Elisha’s allowance. He discoursed of
botany and ethnology with unimpeachable inaccuracy, and his store of local legends
/ he had been a
trusted agent of the State for fifteen years, remember
/ was inexhaustible.
‘Decidedly this fellow is an original,’ said the taller of the two foreigners. ‘He is like the nightmare of a
Viennese courier.’
‘He represents in petto India in transition
/ the monstrous hybridism of East and West,’ the Russian
replied. ‘It is we who can deal with Orientals.’
(Rudyard Kipling, Kim )
# 2005 Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd 10.1191/1474474005eu330oa
cultural geographies 2005 12: 259/291
Introduction: the past in the present
n 1925, after failing in his bid to become Governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt
Jr headed ‘East’ to engage in what he felt marked him as a man; to hunt. Along with
his brother, Kermit, his ‘thoughts turned to central Asia ... this land [that] had always
been the Mecca of our desires’.
Like many Europeans in search of adventure,
Roosevelt appealed to Rudyard Kipling to evoke the ‘call of the wild’ as one which no
young man could resist.
But in an interesting move, presumably tied to his father’s
influence on the rise of scientific conservation in the United States, Roosevelt was not
content to legitimate his actions through the romance of adventure. ‘Though hunting in
itself is a great sport, without the scientific aspect, it loses much of its charm. Therefore,
we decided that any expedition we made would be organized along scientific lines.’
These ‘scientific lines’, however, could not be dissociated from the locale of the science
to which Roosevelt appealed. Following in his famous father’s footsteps, Roosevelt’s
trip was woven through with a patriarchal politics of nationalism.
Science and
romance came together through the lens of nationalism to direct Roosevelt’s travels
through the Karakoram mountains and into central Asia, for ‘[t]he country was
exceedingly interesting from a scientific standpoint, because no comprehensive
American expedition had ever covered it, and there were to all intents and purposes
no collections of the wildlife in our museums’.
This was a significant contribution in
Roosevelt’s mind, and he claimed that the expedition formed a ‘link in the great study
that is now in progress to determine the course of migration of animal life to this
continent’. The expedition would promote the interests of American science by
providing south-western Asiatic specimens so that ‘our scientists in this country will
then have at their disposal a more or less complete series’ to test the Bering Straits land
bridge theory. ‘From this, in all probability, they will not only be able to prove their
theory but also to work out many other interesting problems concerning variation.’
Move forward 80 years in time. A village called Hushe, nestled in the upper reaches
of a valley in the same Karakoram Mountains that Roosevelt traversed, has landed a
boon. This boon is international sport trophy hunting, a ‘conservation-as-development’
initiative that has brought a significant amount of cash into a community that has few
other means of generating the stuff much demanded in an emerging market based
economy. The use of international sport trophy hunting as a conservation incentive is
far from being unique to Pakistan. In fact, it has become a foundational part of
conservation planning within international conservation organizations.
But it has
brought the community within the sway of a new ideology of conservation. This
ideology, brewed in the intellectual cauldrons of international conservation organiza-
tions, repositions community resources within a new system of meaning, alters the
material realities of social relations within the community, modifies human
interactions, and introduces a new form of governmentality that attempts to ground
authority within the institutional arrangements produced through discourses of global
In this paper I use the case of Hushe to examine how market-oriented conservation
interventions rely on an understanding of nature
/ defined through an emerging
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
discourse of global ecology / to incorporate local ecologies within the material
organizational sphere of such institutions, generating new forms of governmentality at
scales inaccessible to traditional means of discipline such as legislation and enforce-
In addition, I historicize debates over nature in this region to provide a context
for my claim that local ecologies are becoming subject to institutional agents of
globalization through strategies similar to those exercised by colonial administrators in
order to gain ecological control over their ‘dominions’. What is happening in Hushe, I
argue, is a contemporary reworking of a colonialist ethic of conservation that relies
rhetorically on: i) a discourse of global ecology; and ii) ideological representations of a
resident population as incapable environmental managers; to assert and implement an
allegedly scientifically and ethically superior force able to respond to assumed
degradation. Just as Theodore Roosevelt relied on an authoritative rhetoric of science
and nationalism to justify his Asian hunting trip, international conservation organiza-
tions rely on and produce a representation of space in the Karakoram range as ‘global’
to facilitate the attainment of political-ecological goals. A number of authoritative
discursive formations are used to buttress these representational tactics. Certainly one is
the authority of scientific management applied to wildlife management.
however, include the representation of a degraded environment, a rapacious and
ecologically ignorant local population, and the promise of ‘development’. While the
perceived facilitating effects of capital link these tactics, all are framed within a
discourse of global ecology and the mechanisms through which it has emerged to
achieve a position of global hegemony over the past 30 years.
The first section of the paper describes the project operating in Hushe and
contextualizes it in light of the ways in which northern Pakistan has become the
object of recent interventions by capital, the state, and international development
organizations that both rely on and deploy representations of the Karakoram as
environmentally and socially poor. The second surveys the discourse on biodiversity
conservation as it emerged out of international organizations in the 1990s and its
implementation in northern Pakistan. In the third section I argue that the implementa-
tion of a discourse of global ecology in Pakistan has
/ not inevitably, but by virtue of an
uncritical acceptance of the dialectic between capital and modernity
/ reworked the
networks of domination through which nature was constructed in an earlier colonial
age. In the final section I discuss the transformation of nature
/society relations implied
by an intervention that paradoxically combines capital and nature as a mechanism for
wildlife conservation.
Inserting a capitalized nature: representation and
intervention in the Karakoram
The project
The village of Hushe is a small agro-pastoral community nestled in the upper reaches of
a valley of the same name in the Karakoram mountain range of northern Pakistan. The
Karakoram range lies in the disputed zone of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir
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(Figure 1). Most inhabitants live in small villages lining the tributary valleys to the Indus
and Hunza Rivers, engage in subsistence agro-pastoralism, and continue to focus on
internal modes of production, distribution and consumption.
For centuries, the
Hushepong have supplemented their cereal-based diet by hunting ibex (Capra ibex),a
large mountain goat. In 1996 the World Conservation Union
(IUCN) approached
village leaders in Hushe with a plan. If the village leaders would agree to prevent
villagers from hunting ibex, IUCN would pursue an agreement with the government of
Pakistan and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora (CITES) that would permit the sale of permits for international hunters
FIGURE 1 Pakistan and study area
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
to stalk ibex on Hushe lands (Figure 2). Ibex are a valued trophy within the
international hunting community, and the hope was that opening a limited market
for the hunt would bring substantial funds into the community. Eventually the
government approved a limited hunt, with the agreement that 75 per cent of the
proceeds from the sale of the permits would go to the village while the remainder
would go to the government.
The marketing of permits takes place largely through
the annual convention of Safari Club International, an organization of relatively wealthy
Approval was also given by CITES to transport the carcass of a trophy animal
to the hunter’s country of origin.
In Hushe, it was decided that during the first year,
money from the sale of permits would be distributed equitably among the 100 village
FIGURE 2 Typical Ibex habitat north of Hushe village. Ibex graze on the vegetation found in
glaciated valley bottoms and on mountain spurs.
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households in an effort to convince all villagers of the value of refraining from hunting
Undoubtedly IUCN had multiple objectives in this project. One was certainly to
try to protect what they felt was a declining number of ibex in the area, but another was
to use this project as a demonstration of the links between conservation and
development. It served as a way to show villagers that ‘nature protection’ could be
used as a means to acquire the stuff of development, albeit through the medium of
cash. Indeed this project was part of a wider $6 million Global Environment Facility and
United Nations Development Programme (GEF/UNDP) jointly funded initiative entitled
‘Maintaining biodiversity in Pakistan with rural community development’.
As the
implementing agency, IUCN was responsible for helping villages to prepare ‘village
biodiversity management plans in an effort to link the objectives of biodiversity
protection with those of rural community development. The aim of this project was to
‘demonstrate how conservation of Pakistan’s biodiversity [could] be enhanced by
providing rural villages with the technical skills to manage wild species and habitats for
sustainable use and to assess the effectiveness of rural village management of natural
This objective falls within a wider GEF/UNDP interest ‘to test and perfect a
new approach in conserving biodiversity, replicable both nationally and internation-
Trophy hunting as eco-development
The logic of relying on trophy hunting as a means to protect biodiversity is not difficult
to grasp from the perspective of capital. Central to this logic is the subjugation of nature
to capital and the use of that capital in the pursuit of ‘development’. This form of eco-
development has certain pre-requisites. One of these is rooted in property relations and
the control of access to property; another is rooted in desire. Perhaps it is easiest to start
with desire. First is the desire of some international conservation organizations to
protect elements of biodiversity that they deem to be important. Just as important,
however, is the desire of some hunters to kill those very same elements of biodiversity,
and their willingness to pay to do so. Third we have the desire of villagers, some of
whom at least would like to acquire the long-promised benefits of ‘development’.
Within this logic, all of these desires can be satisfied by two things: (i) the acquisition
and enclosure of ‘state property’
/ the species, and (ii) the willingness of village
authorities to provide access to land on which ‘state property’ resides (even though
they do not see wildlife as state property). A single species is the key that holds all of
this together. In the case of trophy hunting in Hushe, the ‘boon’ with which I opened
this paper, that species is Capra ibex.
For villagers, ibex have long been both an instrumental and a symbolic resource.
Those who can afford to hunt have historically relied on its meat as a supplemental
source of protein, but, as with most species hunted for subsistence, all of its products
are used (Figure 3). Ibex, however, is also a symbol of fertility, vitality and strength in
the animist belief system that still underlies this Islamic community. Accordingly, when
an ibex is killed, its essential organs
/the heart, liver and kidney / are distributed to
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
people significant to the hunter as a means of wishing them good health and
commenting on the continued significance of their authority. Ibex meat is also
distributed amongst filial and fictive kin as a means of expressing a social commitment
to their wellbeing and fostering strategic allegiances. Just as ibex have symbolic value
for villagers, they also hold symbolic value for international trophy hunters. Far from
being interested in conservation, trophy hunting is motivated by wildlife as an object of
desire. This desire is not a purely individualized phenomenon, however, but is fed by a
particular reward structure within a ‘community’ of hunters. International trophy
hunting has status value which is reflected in the sanctioning structures of organizations
like Safari Club International or the Grand Slam Club, which offer awards to hunters
FIGURE 3 The head of an adult male ibex, approximately 10 years old. The meat from this
animal was distributed within the village and the skin was made into a backpack for carrying
Global hunting grounds
who, for example, kill all representatives of the subspecies of a particular species (the
so-called ‘world slam’), or who kill the largest individual of a particular species in any
given year. The words of one American hunter who engaged in a trophy hunt in the
Karakoram highlight the significance of the hunt in terms of status:
This will probably be one of the highlights of your hunting career, in that this is a very important trophy and
everything, that very few people can claim to have come to this country to hunt. Years ago it was pretty big
on the international scene, with a lot of kings and people of wealth used to hunt here quite a bit. Now it’s
opening it up to the average hunter.
This statement implies that the value of the hunt resides in its exclusivity / facilitated
through limited access to space and wildlife
/and its association with a particular class
and race status. The ‘average hunter’ referred to above clearly does not include local
subsistence hunters. There is little doubt, however, that this hunt follows the logic of
trophy collecting, of adding to ‘the bag’. It is this structured desire that creates ibex as a
value-added species, and international conservation organizations have been quick to
appropriate that added value and use it to serve the ends of biodiversity protection.
This internationalization of hunting does not happen without a demand for hunting
opportunities on the part of wealthy foreign hunters
/ a demand wrapped up in
constructs of the exotic and the legacy of the safari
/ but it is also grounded, at least in
part, in the rise of environmentalism and conceptions of public good that challenge the
activities of hunters closer to home. In North America, for example, participation in
hunting has declined over the past 25 years. The reasons for this are multiple but can be
loosely tied to a rising appreciation of the rights of non-human species. International
trophy hunting, however, is on the increase, and this is reflected in a 71 per cent
increase in the importation of foreign game killed by US trophy hunters since 1990.
No doubt this is fuelled by exoticism and the status derived from the sanctioned
rewards of the ‘hunting community’, but it is partially also a flight from opposition. As
trophy hunting faces increased opposition in North America and Europe, and as
opportunities to hunt encounter increased restrictions, hunters, like multinational
industries, flee to grounds where they can escape those restrictive conditions.
From a ‘community’ perspective, at least one motivation for village leaders to
participate in the project was the chance to acquire the cash through which they could
realize the long-promised material benefits of development. In essence, the imple-
mentation of sport trophy hunting provides the means for converting wildlife to a
commodity with exchange value outside the community. Wildlife, then, becomes a
source of direct income that can be used to acquire some desired benefits such as
increased household income and the development of infrastructure. It is the promise of
these benefits that is meant to provide villagers with a disincentive to engage in
Increased household income or the benefits of social or physical
infrastructure are taken as a measure of increased development so that wildlife, as
commodity, becomes one basis of community development. Of course, this logic is
grounded in inequity. It only works where there is a vast difference in the material
conditions of those providing access to wildlife and those paying for the experience of
the hunt. It is this association of wildlife with development, rooted as it is in inequity,
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
which provides the leverage to emplace a new form of discipline in villages like Hushe.
This ‘new’ form of discipline
/ what we might call enviro-discipline / relies on the
intersection of capital and a discourse of global ecology to achieve its ends, and is
supported by some conservationists who use understandings of prey
relationships to assert that the modifications of behaviour predicated on the
capitalization of nature (assuming that they work) will lead to the maintenance of
integral ecosystems and the protection of biodiversity.
Representations of environment and the facilitation of
The insertion of capital into the realm of ‘nature’ in northern Pakistan, outlined above,
has not gone uncontested, but attention must be paid to the way in which a dominant
representation of the Karakoram region has facilitated the ability of development and
conservation institutions, as well as adventure tourism operators, to access the region.
From the 1930s on the Karakoram has regularly been described as an area stricken by
environmental poverty and ecological marginalization. Accordingly, people inhabiting
the Karakoram have been represented as marginal, as lacking in knowledge or capacity
to survive in their own environment. Butz
provides a fascinating archaeology of
knowledge of ‘the Karakoram’ which reveals a consistency of representation from the
1930s on, epitomized in a recent World Bank description that is little different from the
depictions of British colonial administrators:
[A] cause of rural poverty is a restricted or declining resource base. People may not have access to land, or
the land may be of such poor quality that existing low-capital technologies cannot provide an adequate
income. This situation also characterizes the Northern Areas. The land base is limited to fan-shaped areas of
flat or terraced land along rivers and some high, mountain-top pastures. The water supply is restricted to
irrigation from snow or glacial melt because of very low rainfall. The soils are thin, and the whole natural
environment is fragile. Livestock quality is poor, food for livestock is scarce, and crop varieties are generally
low yielding.
The reified Karakoram, then, is a place of environmental poverty, with an accordant
‘primitive’ lifestyle grounded in eking out subsistence from an inadequate environ-
Such representations set up an empirical reality of the Karakoram as existing in
a condition of lack or absence
/ a condition which can be dealt with through
appropriate economic, technical and social interventions. While this representation
emerges from particular ideologies of science associated with an age of imperialism, it
continues to serve the interests of a number of institutions that, following an active
period of external intervention during the colonial occupation of India, have made
northern Pakistan the target of development initiatives.
Environmental and social
poverty combined with an assumed lack of institutional capacity, for example, underlay
the basic operating assumptions of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP),
the first major development enterprise in the region, which began operations in 1983.
Based on assumptions of inadequate social organization, the AKRSP set about
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establishing village organizations (VOs) / new social formations based on a process of
electoral politics. Beyond the material consequences of development projects
implemented through the AKRSP, the effects of which have been contentious, the
main impact of the agency has been the resignification of the people and place of the
Karakoram as subjects of development. This is evident in the insertion of the region into
a new global regime of representation in which ‘capital, science, and institutions of the
state provide the signifying categories’.
The AKRSP has also effectively facilitated the
process of expert-based social intervention throughout the Karakoram. It is difficult to
encounter a subsequent agency that has not used VOs and AKRSP Social Organizers as
a route of access to villages, and as the mechanisms through which to introduce new
technologies, innovations or programmes. Agencies including IUCN, WWF and UNDP,
for example, have set up regional offices in the major market towns of the mountains
over the past six years and have taken advantage of the advance work of AKRSP.
In spite of the activities of development agencies, the major infusion of capital into
the Northern Areas over the past 15 years has been in the form of adventure tourism.
Although the central Karakoram has been attracting professional travellers, hunters and
‘explorers’ since the mid 1800s, an incipient adventure tourism industry has
experienced a significant expansion since 1989.
Tourism in northern Pakistan is
mainly a local articulation of global processes.
Tourists, primarily Americans and
Europeans, come either to see or to climb peaks deemed important in terms of their
physical features (elevation, climbing difficulty), or their significance to some history or
experience with which the traveller identifies.
Not simply space, but space articulated
through particular identity formations, then, becomes a consumable product. Socially,
tourism has generated new forms of poverty and inequity in some village communities
through intensifying social stratification and possessive individualism. None of this, of
course, goes uncontested. Forms of resistance are evident within village communities,
but the extent and forms of new capital, along with its institutional affiliations, subverts
both the relevance and effectiveness of long-term adaptive practices.
certainly continues to take place, but is much more reliant on the recognition of an
individual subject with particular interests, and the access of subjects to capital or
power outside the local community. As Gupta makes clear, access to brokers is
increasingly important in ‘adapting’ to the changes wrought by capital and moderniza-
tion. Capitalists and development institutions are not blind to this and encourage these
changes with some degree of consciousness.
In the process they form convenient
alliances with, and facilitate the emergence of, a new regional political elite who
attempt to take control of ‘development’ and to ‘modernize’ local institutions. As a
consequence, new innovations tend to follow a particular trajectory of power as they
are introduced to villages, and it becomes much easier for nascent elites to consolidate
power by controlling the flow and distribution of benefits through the regulatory
management structures put in place by institutions such as the AKRSP and IUCN. While
this is clearly apparent in interviews with local residents, development and conserva-
tion institutions continue to present their interventions as being in the interest of ‘the
community’. ‘The community’, however, is commonly treated as a monolithic body of
subjects with uniform interests, rather than as a network of micro-power relations (and
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
their effects) contextualized and bounded by the transformations introduced by
regional, national and international relations of production.
In many ways, the interests of an intensively capitalized global tourism market and
large international conservation organizations intersect with the state in a struggle to
define, represent and shape the present and future of the area. It is hard to say,
however, that there is direct competition in this struggle, for many of the actors
/ the state, capital (largely in the form of adventure tourism agencies), and a
variety of social movements
/ co-operate with each other as much as they compete.
Despite this appearance of co-operation, however, these actors appeal to different
cultural and political economies and rationalizations for their legitimation. Most,
however, use a singular representation of the environmental history of the Karakoram,
and benefit from their ability to refer to a capacity to contribute to environmental
protection and ‘development’ through either generating an awareness of or directly
intervening in the preservation of global biodiversity.
Global ecology, biodiversity and the cultural politics of
environmentalism in the Karakoram
The extension of international conservation interests in northern Pakistan described
above is directly related to the production, and circulation, of a discourse of global
ecology. This discourse emphasizes the protection of biodiversity, but it is very much
grounded in the legitimating value of science and the ontological status of ecology that
incorporates distinct political environments into a global commons. The dominance of
‘global ecology’ has come about in part through the power of transnational institutions
to produce and circulate knowledge, and their control over access to funding that local
governments can use to pursue development goals. This network of power sets up
structural conditions through which a discourse of global ecology finds its way into
national level institutions and emanates from them through regional and local level
nodes until it takes on a material reality in the form of specific projects in localized
Part of the ability of international agencies to garner support for their activities stems
from their history of mediating international environmental relations.
organizations such as the IUCN appeal to their non-governmental status to assert a non-
partisan position. But what allows these agencies to transcend nationalist interests is the
effective way in which they have produced environmental problems as global
problems within the popular imagination. According to David Takacs, who has traced
the development of the term, the idea of biodiversity has been central to this
production, for it has effectively collapsed a range of environmental concepts
localized terms like ‘habitat’ or ‘ecosystem’, for example / into one essential subject,
the protection of global biodiversity. ‘Under the rubric of biodiversity, these terms are
repackaged to unite amorphous, diverse endeavours in a streamlined, do-or-die
conservation effort with biologists at the helm.’
Biodiversity, then, has become the
emblem that dominates the perception of the ecological dilemma as it effectively reifies
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a global image of an interconnected web of life. This interconnection rhetorically
transcends concerns of boundaries and ties all humans into a common goal of
ecological maintenance at a global scale. The focus on biodiversity, then, is central to a
discourse of global ecology and has gained prominence through ecology’s assertion
that human survival relies upon the maintenance of biodiversity. This problematizing of
the biological (i.e. its relevance to human and economic survival) has lead to the
emergence of a global bio-politics, most effectively expressed through the rise of an
institutional ecology manifest in global organizations such as IUCN, WWF, UNDP and
GEF. Through the rise in a particular variety of environmental awareness in the West
one dominated by concerns of biodiversity protection / and positions of political
influence, these organizations have established themselves as watchdogs, and have
effectively used their authority to define global environmental problems and their
solutions, and to influence national politics and decision-making.
In many cases, such
agencies act as mediators between national governments and supranational agencies,
and influence the design of international scientific research programmes that frame the
official environmental agendas of many governments in so-called developing
At a broader societal scale, institutional environmentalism has also contributed to
what some have called the ‘age of ecology’ or the emergence of an incipient ecological
world-view. Jamison, for example, recognizes that biodiversity and the contemporary
concern with global environmental problems have been produced by highly organized
institutional endeavours that incorporate national planners and local communities into
a complex politics of techno-science.
This politics promotes the preservation of
biodiversity not simply as an end in itself but as the route to the production of wealth
and the attainment of development. However, the degree of public awareness that adds
to the currency of this endeavour also relies on some similarly highly organized body
engaged in ‘translating expert discourse into politics, and also recombining specialist
expert knowledges into policy-oriented packages’.
This, Jamison says, has been
effectively accomplished through the marketing strategies of large international
conservation organizations that have helped to create a new phase of institutional
environmentalism in which global environmental processes have assumed priority over
local ones and helped to produce and popularize the idea of a global commons.
Through the representation of environmental problems as territorially transcendent,
transnational NGOs have assumed an enhanced political significance and have come to
play a crucial role in ‘the transnational arenas where agreements are negotiated over
the exploitation of the ‘‘global commons’’’.
Their ideological positions on environ-
mental problems also form the basis for policy measures, and, through a network of
regional offices, they deploy expertise and conduct the research that produces
knowledge used in global environmental discourse, including the construct of a
‘global commons’.
Of course this does not exist in isolation from the nationalist
interests expressed by the administrations of nation states. From both perspectives, the
threat to biodiversity, particularly in developing countries, is not seen merely as a
problem that threatens the biological potential of human beings. It is also one that
threatens the existing social order. Hence, agencies like IUCN and WWF
/ taking their
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
cues from the science of ecology / spread the mantra of biodiversity, and trade in the
techniques through which a normative and uniform management of biodiversity can be
exercised around the world.
Yet they are not alone in enacting this modification. The
intersecting interests that underlie support for these projects have significant implica-
tions for the everyday lives of people and ecologies in places such as Hushe, the
example of which I return to below.
Biodiversity: institutional sanctioning and the appropriation of
‘the local’
The direction of policy through transnational environmental institutions described
above is manifest in projects such as ‘Maintaining biodiversity in Pakistan with rural
community development’. Recall that the motivation for this project, and presumably
the availability of funds, was tied to GEF’s desire to develop and test an approach to
biodiversity protection that could be replicated internationally. This desire for
international replication is fed by an understanding of biodiversity as ontological, as
something that transcends the frictions and problematics of context. The project took
shape in early 1991, as the result of an IUCN and AKRSP reconnaissance mission to
‘examine the feasibility of a community-based natural resource management project’.
This mission was meant to address the need to conserve what were understood to be
‘fragile ecosystems’ in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. A project proposal was submitted
for GEF funding through UNDP. This proposal was approved, and implementation of
the pilot project began in 1995. An analysis of project documents reveals the ways
in which representations of the Karakoram and a discourse of global ecology align
to structure the aims of the project which, according to Ahmed and Hussain, both
IUCN-Pakistan employees at the time, were to: (i) demonstrate how conservation of
biodiversity can be enhanced by providing rural people with technical skills;
(ii) demonstrate how local institutions can manage wild species and habitats for
sustainable use; and (iii) assess the effectiveness of rural village management of natural
With these objectives in mind, the project framework appropriates the language of
participatory development and collaborative management to articulate a process that
claims to put ‘local people in the ‘‘driving seat’’, transferring control and building their
capacity to conserve and sustainably use natural resources. This conservation approach
becomes the agenda of the local communities, the government institutions, and the
local NGOs, while the donors assume a supporting and facilitating role.’
Within the
proposed plan, a Project Management Committee (PMC) oversees IUCN, AKRSP and
Government of Pakistan personnel working together to implement the project. In
practice, the PMC selected a set of sites on the basis of criteria that were seen to
influence the sites’ potential for success.
Selected villages were then approached in a
series of three dialogues which culminated in the development of a village biodiversity
management plan and the signing of a terms of partnership between the project and the
VO for implementation and future cooperation.
It is in the development and
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implementation stages that the transfer of skills and capacity building is meant to occur.
Village management plans focus on a particular ‘management activity’ selected by the
VO, and ‘identify an important resource that they wish to conserve as an agenda for
biodiversity conservation, and define a regime for its sustainable use’.
Yet, in this
project, we can identify a strategic environmental initiative in which development
assumes the forefront, for ‘in preparing this project, it is expected that they [VOs] will
develop biodiversity management plans for purposes like sport hunting, game bird
hunting, management and use of medicinal plants and ecotourism’.
What this
statement implies is that ‘involving local people in biodiversity management’, ‘putting
local people in the driver’s seat’, ‘providing local people with the skills to appropriately
manage their resources’, and ‘demonstrating how local institutions can manage wild
species and habitats for sustainable use’ actually means commodifying wild resources
and inserting them into global circuits of exchange. Despite the language of
participatory development and collaborative management that is deployed within the
project documents, the goals and objectives articulated here and the structure of project
management continue to relegate various community interests to post facto positions, if
they are taken into consideration at all. For example, the project structure ignores the
reality of power relations in the region. No community members were involved in the
design of the project, and the document presupposes ‘community’ to be a
homogeneous body of interests, assuming the potential for uniform input and
distribution of any resulting benefits.
This is not at all unusual within conservation
projects. Despite recent work that advocates the promotion of collaborative manage-
ment and participation in conservation as development programmes, long-term social
research indicates that attempts to implement such goals have consistently failed.
Much of this can be seen as resulting from the absence of good social research capacity
in the implementing agencies, but attention must also be paid to the low priority given
to social policy goals within the implementing institutions, which are staffed primarily
by natural scientists or economists.
The effects of this lack of attention to social research and the assumptions of social
capacity inherent in the project are revealed in the project proposal, which very clearly
identifies mechanisms to address the first two objectives but fails to do so for the third
assessing the effectiveness of rural village management of natural resources. It is this
oversight that reveals the tokenism of the participatory rhetoric deployed in this project;
far from being an oversight, the reasons for this absence can be found in the project
justification statement which identifies the ‘need for the project: At present, there are
few incentives for rural people to maintain or manage renewable natural resources
In this short statement, the authors of the project evacuate the possibility
of a sophisticated knowledge of local environmental processes on the part of local
residents and assume a priori that village management strategies are ineffective in
conserving resources, hence relieving them of the need to address the third stated
objective. This assumption is grounded in a belief that:
Government agencies have a very limited capacity to enforce wildlife laws, making it virtually impossible to
control rural people’s use of wild resources
/ especially when they need these resources to meet their
subsistence requirements. The problem will become more acute with increasing human population if
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
mechanisms are not provided for rural people to acquire the technical skills to manage wild resources. An
alternative approach is needed that involves rural people in the solution rather than considering them the
This project is grounded in a set of basic, and unwarranted, assumptions. The first is a set
of assumptions about biodiversity. Nowhere in the project document is biodiversity
actually defined. Indeed, the document opens with the redundant statement that
‘Pakistan’s biodiversity is diverse’. For most of the document, biodiversity is expressed in
terms of the fairly typical charismatic mega-fauna species that ‘merit enhanced
protection’ and plant species ‘that have potential economic value’. Both of these are
said to be in decline because of hunting pressure, which is being exacerbated ‘because
natural habitats are being converted to agricultural production at an ever increasing
These classic ‘blame the villager’ tropes do not stand up to scrutiny. This is not to
say that they are not true, but that there has been no quality longitudinal research to
demonstrate them one way or the other. The Karakoram region has never been subject
to a detailed floral or faunal survey, so there is no benchmark against which to judge
current numbers or their status.
Beyond that, the habitat destruction and overgrazing
arguments do not hold for the species identified in the report. For the most part, these
species exist above the level of permanent cultivation and most indicators suggest that,
as a cash economy expands in the region, pasture use is actually decreasing in the
Karakoram rather than expanding.
Finally, the assumption of increasing population in
the upper reaches of Karakoram valleys is challenged by demographic research in the
region that points to a pattern of population stability over the past 100 years.
assumptions regarding the state of biodiversity are compounded by assumptions about
the role of community institutions in the management of resource use, relations between
rural villages and government, community social structure and local views concerning
nature. It would be a daunting task to expose all the flaws in these assumptions. Suffice it
to say that none of the organizations associated with this project has conducted detailed
social or bio-geographical research in any of the communities involved. Nor have they
spent sufficient time in these communities to have any accurate sense of agro-ecological
practice, community-based conceptions of nature, or the role of community institutions
in ‘managing wild resources’. Consider, for example, the rationale for adopting a
‘community-based approach to biodiversity protection’
/ that ‘the earlier approach of
conservation through legislation and keeping local communities out of resource
management, have failed’.
This is an example of seriously overestimating the salience
of government in the daily lives of rural villagers. When the most ‘government that
people usually see are the police or the army, neither of whom show much regard for
local resources, it has been rural villagers who, far from being excluded, have for
centuries been the primary ‘environmental managers’ in the central Karakoram. From
the perspective of the project, however, this does not matter, for its ultimate assumption
is of a people without appropriate environmental knowledge or skills. And its ultimate
goal is to demonstrate its ‘relevance to and furtherance of GEF objectives’:
in relation to the principal criteria under the Biodiversity sector of GEF, the project will conserve ecosystems
and threatened species through development of village biodiversity management plans with sufficient
incentives to sustain their management of resources.
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The model evolved through this study for rural villages to integrate management of their environment
with their economic development activities will be very useful. Enhancement of government and NGO
capacities to advise and assist rural communities to manage wild resources sustainably will ensure
replication to other regions of the country and abroad. ... The project will screen plant material that has
potential international economic value and ensure that rights to use those resources are retained in
Pakistan. The commercial benefits of these indigenous materials will be demonstrated to villagers.
These statements contain an implicit assumption that underpins the entire proposal:
that the practices of ‘rural people’ are contrary to the interests of biodiversity protection;
as government cannot act coercively to meet the project’s goals, the means for people
to discipline their own activities must be established. This is to be achieved in two
ways, although they are not stated as such in the proposal: (i) through the realization of
the exchange value as opposed to the use value of plant and animal biomass; and (ii)
through the transference of skills meant to manage wild resources in accordance with
production goals determined by exchange value.
It is in this equation of biodiversity with material wealth, and the potential for
economic gain, that the interests of the state, environmental institutions and capital
align to affect the day-to-day lives of rural villagers. The key, of course, is that, to link
biodiversity protection with development, ‘nature’ must be seen as something with
exchange value that exceeds use value. Trophy hunting is one mechanism through
which to make this link, but it is also part of a cultural politics of ‘global ecology’ that
has specific local effects. Here, I follow Escobar’s description of cultural politics as ‘the
process enacted when social actors shaped by or embodying different cultural
meanings and practices come into conflict with each other’. However, I qualify this
to say that cultural politics need not involve conflict; that ‘interaction’ can act as a
substitute for conflict.
According to Escobar, culture becomes political when
‘meanings become the source of processes that, implicitly or explicitly, seek to redefine
social power ... This cultural politics unsettles familiar understandings and practices of
nature, as it attempts to wrest away local ecologies of mind and nature from entrenched
networks of class, gender, cultural, and ethnic domination.
Below, I assert that
conservation interventions in Hushe set in motion processes that both implicitly and
explicitly seek to redefine social relations by asserting that biodiversity can be saved
through a realization of the exchange value of ibex. Far from being isolated events,
however, such processes are occurring across the Northern Areas with the intensified
activity of international conservation organizations and the convergence of interests
between those NGOs and multinationals
/ international hunt clubs, say, or tourism
/ that would cloak themselves in ‘green’. As I have pointed out, however,
in the absence of data to demonstrate a decline in ibex, or any knowledge of local
/environment relations, the capacity to intervene relies upon the use of
historical cognitive resources to assert an environmentally incompetent ‘native’. To
understand the contemporary cultural politics of conservation in northern Pakistan,
then, we need to turn to the ideological representations of people and place produced
during the British administrative control of Kashmir
/ a period when ‘nature’ was also
contested and when the trope of the ‘rapacious native’ was used to legitimate the
colonial enclosure of space in the interest of conservation. It is useful to trace this
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
history to understand the positioning of today’s ‘rural villager’ as an incapable steward
of the local environment within the discursive formations of international conservation
organizations operating in the area.
Claiming history, claiming trophies and claiming space
There is little new in the connection between representations of the ‘rapacious native’,
the rhetoric of conservation, and the enclosure of space in Kashmir. From the point at
which Kashmir was opened to British officers in the mid-nineteenth century, hunters
established a relation between the ability to control access to space and securing the
right to hunt. Tyacke, for example, notes:
to secure the shooting rights in a nala [stream valley], you must be the first in the nala. The pitching of a tent
in it, if you are not yourself present, gives you no title, and if you find a tent pitched without an owner
present somewhere in the nala you have a perfect right to strike it, and claim the shooting.
Though it is difficult to get any sense of just how much hunting occurred before the end
of the nineteenth century, declines in game populations were witnessed as early as
1890 and regulations put in place to limit the exploitation of certain species. Lawrence,
for example, notes that the state introduced rules for the preservation of Kashmir stag
(Cervus elaphus hanglu ), ibex (Capra ibex ) and musk deer (Moschus moschiferus)in
1890, and that the few reserves maintained by the state, within which hunters needed
special permission to shoot, were important in retarding the extinction of game.
others, however, Lawrence does not see hunting by Europeans as primarily responsible
for the decline of game. Rather, he locates it at the feet of ‘natives and blames the ‘drop
in hinds’ on Kashmir villagers. He does not completely excuse Europeans. ‘Europeans,
who ought to have known better, have occasionally disgraced themselves by stag-
driving in the snow, and one case was reported a few years ago when a person killed
fourteen stags, which were driven through the deep snow, past the chair on which he
was comfortably seated.’
Here, however, he sets up a moral difference between
Europeans and ‘natives’. ‘Natives cannot be expected to know the effects of their
actions on wildlife populations, but Europeans should be above such matters.
Lawrence, however, is not comfortable with the ability of Europeans to constrain their
ambitions and recommends that the state regulate the sport:
Though the state is anxious to co-operate in game preservation, and recognizes that it is the sport of
Kashmir which chiefly attracts the European visitors whom His Highness the Maharajah welcomes so
hospitably, I do not think that game preservation will be placed on a satisfactory basis until an association is
formed for the purpose of controlling sport in Kashmir. If some association were formed, a healthy public
opinion would be created, which would check wholesale slaughter of game and all unsportsmanlike
behaviour. The question is of considerable importance, as Kashmir and its neighbouring mountains have
afforded health and excitement to British officers serving in India, and it would be a matter of serious regret
if game were exterminated by the selfish and ignorant conduct of the fin de siecle sportsman, and if the
grand stalking of the Kashmir mountains, so congenial a relaxation to the soldier, became a thing of the
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Lawrence’s demand for associations anticipates the formation of hunting societies in the
early twentieth century.
More importantly, however, his appreciation of reserves
disguises an epistemological break between the ‘noble hunting ethic’ of the European
sportsman and the crass brutality of the local subsistence hunter. This understanding of
difference was not unknown in Europe or America, where the basis for distinction was
largely class. The campaign for trophy hunting led by Roosevelt and by the Boone and
Crockett Club in early twentieth-century California, for example, was a classic example
of a reform movement with ‘an interlocking ethnic, class and regional agenda’.
movement sought to distinguish and eliminate subsistence and commercial hunting
while codifying the rights of trophy hunters. While legislation was used to secure these
goals, the purchase of exclusive hunting preserves was also implemented to limit the
access of ‘undesirable’ hunters. In Kashmir, even though some Europeans resisted
regulations, the ideology of law was structured along racial lines so that when
legislation was established, white Europeans were designated sportsmen whereas
‘natives’ were either shikaris (hunting guides for whites) or ‘poachers’. Subsistence
hunting, in effect, became criminalized in the interests of a race- and class-based trophy
hunting. To be sure, those hunters who supported the implementation of regulations
were defending their own manner of hunting on the grounds of a superior morality,
and laying the blame for wildlife decline at the feet of the ‘indiscriminate hunting
of natives’, who were seen as incapable of possessing a conservationist ethic.
This construction of the ‘rapacious native’ gained popular credence through the
publication of ‘bag books’ in the nineteenth century and is summed up well by
Sport in Kashmir is, alas! not what it used to be; the game is not nearly as plentiful as it was a few years ago.
This regrettable state of things has been brought about chiefly by the natives, who kill large numbers of
animals in the winter to provide themselves with food; and also sad to relate, with a view to selling the
heads to so-called sportsmen, who visit the country in the summer, but are too lazy to do the shooting
The game laws recently established will, it is hoped, put an end to most of this; they also restrict the
numbers of each description of game to be shot by any one person. It is a pity these game laws had not
been brought into force many years ago, but if properly enforced now, they may yet be in time to save one
of the most beautiful shooting grounds in the world; all sportsmen who go to Kashmir should do their best
to act in concert with the ‘Durbar’, and report any breach in the game laws which may come under their
notice. There is only one alternative and, should the laws prove a failure, it is quite possible that one may
have to rent a nullah in Kashmir as one has to do a moor in Scotland.
As Neumann has observed in Africa, these big-game hunters were not only setting their
style of hunting apart from, and as superior to, the subsistence hunting of ‘natives’, but
were defending it against ‘active public criticism [and regulation] at home’.
Many were
certainly in favour of regulations, but only regulations that protected their rights, while
those that blocked access to hunting grounds were publicly criticized. With the
exception of Lawrence, for example, few supported the exclusive preserves that were
only available to the maharajah and select company. But almost all Europeans saw ‘the
native’ as ‘to blame for the diminution in sport’.
Aside from the implicit racism in these
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
statements, the interpretation of ‘native’ blame for a decline in wildlife does not stand
up under scrutiny. Few books, for example, make mention of the fact that ‘natives’
were prohibited from owning guns.
Though some certainly did own guns, few had
the cash to purchase ammunition, let alone the time to devote to indiscriminate
A more likely explanation for the decline in wildlife, and one that may well provide a
preliminary route into understanding population dynamics as they affect herds today, is
the political structure of Kashmiri game laws. While the laws covered the state as a
whole, for all practical purposes they only applied to Kashmir proper and the domains
of the minor rajahs of Baltistan were excluded from the laws. Hunting in those valleys
was at the pleasure of the minor rajahs. Given this exception, it is not surprising that
Baltistan was considered the ‘heart of ibex country’, and few ‘sahibs’ seem to have
consulted the local rajas for permission before staking their claim to a nala. The
regulations also limited the number of animals that could be shot by a licence-holder.
While for individual species these seem low (e.g. the 1914 allowance was two markhor
and three ibex), a single 60-rupee licence sanctioned the killing of 35 large mammals in
total (Figure 4). Beyond that, some species that are now part of the catalogue of
protected mega-fauna were regarded as pests and not subject to limits. These included
snow leopard (Uncia uncia) and black bear (Ursus thibetanus):
Rewards are given for killing vermin to license-holding sportsmen by the Game Preservation Department.
@ Rs. 10 for leopards (snow and common), Rs. 5 for leopards (cubs), Rs. 10 for wolves, wild dogs, lynx; Rs.
four for carrion, crow and cormorant and other fish vermin. Also Rs. 5 may be given for others doing
damage on trout waters at the discretion of the Game Warden.
In addition, a caveat in the legislation made it possible for the ‘sahib’ to purchase a
‘hindsight’ licence to cover any excess animals that may have been ‘inadvertently’ shot
during the trip. Finally, monitoring of the regulations was left up to the shikaris in the
sahib’s employ. Given that the shikari’s livelihood was dependent upon both payment
and recommendations from his sahib employer, it is doubtful that a shikari would act to
report his employer to the state authorities. The oppressive domination of the Muslim
population by Hindu bureaucrats would make it even less likely that shikaris
(predominantly Muslims) would turn in their employers.
Of course these are all
hindsight observations that might help to explain declines in wildlife over time. The
sahibs needed no such observation. They had an explanation for wildlife decline
grounded in an epistemology of the ‘native’. And in many ways, not much has changed
since. ‘Natives’ continue to be blamed for wildlife decline. In a recent National Public
Radio program, broadcast in the US, both the commentator and a WWF representative
cited subsistence hunting as the cause of wildlife decline. In relation to the ibex,
‘Richard Garstang of WWF says this subsistence hunting was so widespread it was
threatening to wipe out species.’
Notably, Garstang is neither an anthropologist nor a
wildlife biologist, but a conservation marketing agent, employed by both IUCN-
Pakistan and WWF-Pakistan, who has been largely responsible for promoting the
concept of sport trophy hunting in northern Pakistan and marketing it among large
international hunting organizations.
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The social and spatial effects of a capitalized nature
Explanations for why representations of the ‘rapacious native’ are so durable can, I
think, be found in their lasting usefulness for the needs of governance. Under a colonial
regime, they were used to legitimate attempts at environmental regulation, and they
continue to buttress contemporary efforts to protect wildlife. These contemporary
efforts, however, are grounded in a realization that colonial and postcolonial
regulations have not worked. They certainly do not stop subsistence hunting, nor do
they stop the trophy hunting of local administrators, or the helicopter supported
hunting of army troops stationed along the borders of Pakistani-held Kashmir. In the
eyes of conservation NGOs, however, these regulations do not fail because they are
flawed in themselves but because the government has no way of enforcing them in the
‘remote’ territories inhabited by the species they are designed to protect. The solution,
then, from the perspective of spatially distant interests is not to do away with the
legislation, but to find an effective mode of surveillance and monitoring. This is where
the role of capital and trophy hunting fill the gap. Within colonialist ideologies, wild
species were the property of empire and demanded the protection of imperial
structures. The rhetoric of international conservation NGOs, however, inserts these
FIGURE 4 Large mammals continued to be hunted in large numbers in the Karakoram until the
end of British rule in 1948. This photograph displays the ‘bag’ of a hunting trip by Capt Frederick
Adair in 1898. (F.E.S. Adair, The big game of Baltistan and Ladakh, a summer in high Asia: being
a record of sport and travel in Baltistan and Ladakh (London, W. Thacker & Co., 1899),
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
species into a new regime of space. Now, these same species form part of the global
commons and demand the protection of global structures. This commons needs to be
/ no longer for empire, but for the sake of the planet / and it is the tools of
conservationist science that facilitate this management. What has changed, then,
between colonial times and the present is not so much the discursive bases for a
perceived decline in wildlife, nor the desire to protect large game species, but beliefs
about the effectiveness of various means through which conservation can be achieved.
It is in the search for new means that we find the logic behind the ideological rhetoric
of ‘conservation as development’, or eco-development. If the subjects of development
who occupy a targeted area can be convinced that conservation will bring the promise
of desired development, this promise can then be used to extract a commitment to the
goals of conservation. The resurrection of trophy hunting in northern Pakistan is one
means that international conservation NGOs have recently begun to use to make this
link. A discourse of global ecology and the related vocabulary of accounting,
management and control, however, directly inform these projects. In many ways, the
underpinning logic of such projects relies on a faith in the disciplining effects of wage
labour capitalism similar to that found near the end of the British colonial era.
Particularly in the case of trophy hunting, the conversion of subsistence biomass to
potential accumulative capital is intended to exercise a form of ecological discipline.
Operating through the social structure of the community, this disciplinary restraint is
meant to modify the behaviour of villagers and make them conform to a set of
behaviours prescribed by the demands of an external world-view of capitalized nature.
This attempt to introduce a new form of disciplinary restraint is salient to the cultural
politics of nature in Hushe. In essence, trophy hunting is unsettling the familiar by
extracting local ecologies from entrenched networks of class, gender, cultural and
ethnic domination. It acts, along with other interventions, to situate local ecologies
within new social and spatial contexts of domination, and to reorient exclusionary
practices in face-to-face communities. International hunters and conservation NGOs,
for example, proclaim an ethic of ‘true’ conservation as they facilitate the means
through which game is assigned a monetary value. By doing so, however, they
effectively remove resources from local control and management and situate them
within the domain of national and international institutions. The motive is much the
same as that of the British Indian administration which encouraged the Maharajah of
Kashmir to establish hunting preserves and forbid villagers to own firearms. There is,
however, a difference. It is now capital that makes this demand, rather than legislation
backed by the sheer power of force. Capital, however, also requires the power of social
and physical force to enforce its dictates and minimize the resistance of those who
object to new forms of domination. It finds this new force not only in the sanctioning
power and policies of global and national institutions, but also in the social pressure of
those who stand to benefit from the proceeds of hunting (shop owners, guides, etc.).
Capital is able to take advantage of the fact that communities are not bodies of
homogeneous or uniform interest but social groups with a web of common and
contradictory interests, particularly in an age when practices of modernization have
encouraged the liberal ethics of individualism over communitarianism.
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But such fragmentation within communities, and the various trajectories of power
through which particular groups can appropriate the benefits of interventions, is rarely
if ever addressed in the documents of international conservation NGOs. Rather, IUCN
assertions that ‘sustainable use initiatives’ such as the trophy hunting scheme
implemented in Hushe represent co-management, or community-based resource
management, are undermined by the historical and contemporary linkages of trophy
hunting to processes of colonialism and globalization. Indeed, a case can be made that
the degree of ‘community’ engagement in the management of local ecologies must be
understood in the context of its connections to, and relations with, a wider global
political economy. This does not seem to be apparent in the writings of conservation
NGOs. Nor do they seem versed in local conceptions of ‘community management’. It is
difficult to appreciate how trophy hunting, for example, represents community-based
management when the very conception of the environment that is to be managed via
transferred skills is not grounded in an understanding of local conceptions of nature,
diverse and hybrid though those may be. Rather, it is steeped in the vernacular and
logic of conventional resource management that is derived from locally unfamiliar
circuits of knowledge production. To take the case of Hushe as a simple example,
existing human
/environment relations have not been studied. And the forms that
management can assume are now being structured by a community that has been
extended to include nation-state governments, transnational institutions and the
interests of capital, situated in a host of global sites.
Rather than emphasizing and strengthening community processes, one of the primary
consequences of a capitalized nature in Hushe has been its individualizing effects. In
Hushe, for example, the symbolic value attached to being a good hunter has
diminished. Historically, village members recognized a free right to hunt within village
lands. This right was a constitutive part of what it was to be a village member and, as I
have pointed out above, important in a variety of symbolic ways (e.g. distribution of
meat and sharing of liver, heart and kidneys). Wildlife, while it resided on community
commons, was available to community members, subject to household need, the ability
to acquire a weapon and the ability to actually go hunting in the face of labour
constraints or other communal responsibilities. The distribution of capital, however, as
it flows from the proceeds of the sale of trophy hunting licences, effectively curtails that
right, and justifies that curtailment by appealing to other egalitarian and environmen-
talist values. It also makes resistance a more difficult practice because of the
modifications in the use-meaning of wildlife and the alterations it introduces into
village social relations and social structure. Indeed, through the alteration of social
relations, the deployment of state subjectivities penetrates to the level of the village.
The subsistence hunter, for example, is no longer simply a criminal in the eyes of the
state but also in the eyes of those of his neighbours who most stand to gain
economically and politically from trophy hunting or increased adventure tourism. New
grounds for suspicion are introduced into the community through the privatization and
commodification of a resource. Now, whenever someone leaves the village at an odd
time or with a firearm, there is an element of suspicion that they may be engaged, not in
an act of material and symbolic value, but in an act of theft against ‘the community’. The
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
use of capital as an incentive for protection is also likely to result in stiffer penalties for
poaching, particularly given the redefinition of wildlife as community property.
Poaching, now, is not just a crime against nature, or against the property of the
maharajah or the state, but a crime against ‘the community’ and, of course, a crime
against capital
/ the capital of the hunter who will pay to kill the animal that has been
These penalties effectively criminalize subsistence hunters while protect-
ing the interests of wealthy foreign hunters. This is one example of how the
intervention of international conservation NGOs and sport trophy hunters, in the act
of redefining wildlife, redefines nature
/society relations.
A discourse of global
ecology also redefines wildlife as property in ways that increase the legitimacy of the
global trophy hunter’s claim to a right of access. While the trophy hunter is interested in
little more than using money to purchase the right to hunt which he cannot gain
through other means such as access to territory based on community membership, by
purchasing his right to kill, he is, within the sanctioning terms of a discourse of global
ecology, protecting global property. This accords with the ways in which discourses of
globalism deterritorialize local property and property rights, and reterritorialize them in
global terms. It also derives from a neo-liberal contention that obstacles which prevent
capital from accessing property need to be levelled if ‘development’ is to be achieved.
This process of de- and reterritorialization is reliant on specific mechanisms that allow
the global hunter access to wildlife in ‘remote’ places of the world, while restricting
local access to those same resources. And those mechanisms derive from the
environmental brokerage role that international conservation agencies play in
translating and transmitting the knowledge involved in the production of a discourse
of global ecology. This brokerage role is facilitated by agreements with power as it
resides in statist institutions
/ such as national governments that claim ownership of
resources but are willing to cede it to the highest bidder
/ and as it exists in local
But it is also facilitated by the ontology that constitutes the foundation
of a discourse of global ecology, the very discourse that legitimates actions such as
international trophy hunting for conservation. It would be difficult, for example, to
legitimate international sport trophy hunting without the ontology of a discourse of
global ecology, primarily the existence of a ‘global commons and the ‘biodiversity’ that
resides within that global commons. Nor could it be maintained without the
representation of a ‘rapacious native’, who has neither the skills nor the inclination
to manage that biodiversity. Foreign hunters claim to be struggling against the
rapacious tendencies of local villagers who are taking advantage of a common
resource. Leaving the responsibility of ‘wildlife management’ to locals, they claim, will
lead to extinction. Against local control, hunters are able to deploy not simply their own
discursive formations but those of international environmental organizations. These
organizations position local residents as exploiters who need to be curtailed in their
killing of wildlife. One way to achieve this goal and gain access to local hunting
grounds is to reconfigure wildlife not simply as local property but as global property, as
a global resource that everyone in the world has a duty to protect. If wildlife can be
identified as a global resource, the moral claim can be made that it should be cared for
and preserved in the interests of a global citizenry. Within this discourse the local
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subsistence value of game for individual households becomes negligible compared to
its recreational and aesthetic significance to a wider community of global stakeholders.
Yet agreements grounded in this discourse
/ that protect ibex for the ‘many’ (the globe)
against the ‘few’ (villagers)
/ are essentially class agreements that implement protection
for the benefit of the wealthy. In effect, such agreements take local land and resources
and create a global property, in our case a global hunting ground, accessible only to a
global elite and those few locals who happen to guide them. This is, in effect, the
creation of a new private hunting ground for a new global elite. It is also the creation of
a new ‘nature’ that reflects the interwoven interests of the state, science, and capital.
Here, for example, is a description of how capital, in the form of new tourism
initiatives, realizes benefits from agreements that are meant to protect biodiversity:
The local wildlife of Hushe is Pakistan’s richest / the Asiatic ibex, the snow leopard, the wolf, and the fox
being some of them. Life in parts of the Hushe Valley hasn’t changed in centuries and can still be seen set
against the rugged snow cloaked peaks and cobalt blue skies. Its [sic ] hard to imagine a more majestic
setting. ... You will ... spend 4/5 days accompanying IUCN and local Village Wildlife Guides on their
monitoring of wildlife in this conservation area. Local community awareness for conservation is constantly
being raised
/ their rich environment is their biggest asset when managed locally and sustainably. Since the
completion of an ecotourism survey report in 1996, IUCN has been working with the Hushe community to
raise awareness, targeting both locals and visitors, about the environmental impacts associated with
unregulated tourism. Your participation in this programme will practically and financially help to support
the local environmental and community based efforts mentioned.
Nature, reterritorialized through the capacity-building interventions of global institu-
tions, is also nature reproduced as spectacle that supports the need of adventure
tourism for new markets. Of course, there are also symbolic goals involved here. Not
only do the interests of capital gain through the re-inscription of nature in global terms,
but the global institutions responsible for that process benefit through the creation of a
new means of circulating a new knowledge of people and place
/ a knowledge of a
people and place ‘raised’ through the development of a capitalized nature.
Conclusion: globalism, ecology and discipline
Despite assertions that a discourse of global ecology is a recent construction, a number
of threads connect Roosevelt’s web of romance, science and nationalism with the
introduction of sport trophy hunting in Hushe in the late 1990s. Both rely on: (i)
conceptions of wildlife as a symbolic and a material resource that exists as part of a
global commons, itself defined through the knowledge-producing mechanisms of a
rationalist science; (ii) claims on wildlife as property; and (iii) the primacy of science
and conservationist goals as the legitimating rationale for the hunt. In both cases, the
logic of what Escobar has called ‘capitalized nature’ runs through the historical narrative
from Roosevelt (and before) to the present day.
No doubt there are differences
between the two ‘projects’. ‘Development’, for example, was not part of the rhetoric
deployed in the legitimation of Roosevelt’s expedition. And although science is a
legitimizing rhetorical device in both scenarios, science has to a degree transcended
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
nationalist frames and assumed international dimensions, particularly through the rise
of institutional ecologism.
Through the ability of international institutions to access
global markets, local ecologies are brought into a sphere of power relations whereby
they are managed by the intersecting demands of the state, science, global capital
(concentrated in specific centres of accumulation) and a localized subsistence
agricultural economy. This ability is, of course tied into other forces of globalization.
It is the capital of those in dominant positions within the global economy which
provides the ability to transcend the vagaries of space through technology so that such
individuals can hunt ibex, and which provides international institutions with the
capacity for intervention and the ability to attempt to redefine ‘nature’. In many ways,
then, the exchange value of ibex that contributes to the redefinition of local ecologies is
directly linked to the technologies that intensify processes of globalization. Trophy
hunting also entrenches a set of labour relations. Like a reworked colonialism, the
variety of environmentalism that supports this capitalization of nature relegates villagers
not to the role of ‘managers’ but to that of servants (shikaris), forbidden to hunt, whose
role is simply to show the wealthy where and how to find the beasts they seek. Hunters
and the international institutions which support their activities through the rhetoric of
‘sustainable use initiatives’ are able to do this because of global inequities, and because
of the commodity fetishism of international trophy hunting. All of these institute new
relationships between people, social institutions and ‘nature’ in the village by tying
them into an ecology defined not within the context of local use meanings but through
discourses of globalism. This new ‘management regime’, and the altered social relations
it masks, represent some of the localized material consequences of a discourse of global
The combined operation of the interests I have described in this paper is not simply a
form of innocuous intervention. Rather, it can be seen as a new form of governance that
has accompanied the rise of environmentalism. Luke has referred to this as ‘green
governmentality’, which has been coincident with the ways in which ‘the environment,
particularly the goals of its protection, has become a key theme of many political
operations, economic interventions and ideological campaigns to raise public standards
of collective morality, personal responsibility and collective vigour’.
This form of
green governmentality, however, relies on a discourse that ‘tells us that today’s
allegedly unsustainable environments need to be disassembled, recombined and
subjected to the disciplinary designs of expert management’.
The example presented
in this paper is but one case among many where assertions of unsustainability and a
discourse of global ecology are used as the lever through which to enter a community
in order to apply expert designs to a local environment. The goal here is to redirect a
local environment to fulfil the ends of new scripts
/ in this case the script of
biodiversity protection and the international managerial and administrative directives
that accompany it. For this redirection to occur, however, existing means of policing
ecological spaces must be constructed as ineffective. Old modes of domination must be
replaced. New instrumental rationalities need to be put in place. And it is the
capitalization of nature, and consequent attempts to instil a ‘new set of environmental
values’ through projects such as ‘Maintaining biodiversity in Pakistan with rural
Global hunting grounds
community development’, which subject local ecologies to global management
procedures. Trophy hunting, in effect, serves as Weberian ‘booty’ through which the
realization of nature as capital acts as a means to extend the reach of a western scientific
rationale for environmental management into local spaces
/ resulting in the creation of
trans-local ecologies.
It is still too early to see what kinds of ‘nature’ will emerge
through these processes. It is possible that resistance will emerge in places like Hushe
as it has in response to the initiatives of state, capital and biodiversity protection in
other areas of the Karakoram and in Africa.
What is certain is that the structuring terms
of a discourse of global ecology and the transnational, governmental and capitalist
institutions that produce and deploy it are becoming more pervasive in their attempts to
redefine ‘nature’, property and space in ways that convert local into translocal
ecologies. Listen closely and you can still hear the words of Kipling and Roosevelt
faintly echoing in the textual chambers of international conservation organizations. The
‘rapacious native’ persists, leaving conservation ‘experts’, science, and foreign hunters
in the position of knowing best how to ‘deal with Orientals’.
I am indebted to people in Hushe and Askoli, Pakistan, for their openness and
hospitality over the years. I also owe thanks to a number of people who have
encouraged, read, commented on, or contributed to the shape of this paper including:
Tom Bassett, Ashley Dawson, David Demeritt, Michele Dominy, Paul Greenough,
Rebecca Johns, Tad Mutersbaugh, Paul Robbins, K. Sivaramakrishnan and Holly
Wardlow. Thanks also to participants in the Critical Development Studies Seminar at the
University of Iowa, including Amita Bavaskar, Jim Ferguson, Stacy Leigh Pigg, Vasant
Saberwal, Paige West and Charles Zerner, who all offered useful comments and
suggestions. Thanks also to Don Mitchell and anonymous reviewers for their helpful
comments. I accept responsibility for any errors or omissions that remain.
T. Roosevelt and K. Roosevelt, East of the sun and west of the moon (New York, Scribner’s,
1926), p. 2.
Roosevelt quotes Kipling’s poem ‘The feet of young men’.
Roosevelt and Roosevelt, East of the sun ,p.4.
Cf. A. Bloom, Gender on ice: American ideologies of polar exploration (Minneapolis,
University of Minnesota Press, 1994).
Roosevelt and Roosevelt, East of the sun ,p.5.
Ibid., pp. 7/8.
J.A. McNeely, Economics and biological diversity: developing and using economic incentives
to conserve biological resources (Gland, Switzerland, IUCN, 1988); International Institute for
Environment and Development, Whose Eden? an overview of community approaches to
wildlife management (London, Overseas Development Administration, 1994); C.C. Gibson
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
and S.A. Marks, ‘Transforming rural hunters into conservationists: an assessment of
community-based wildlife management programs in Africa’, World development 23 (1995),
pp. 941
/57; C.H. Freese, ed., Harvesting wild species: implications for biodiversity (Baltimore,
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997); D.M. Lewis and P. Alpert, ‘Trophy hunting and wildlife
conservation in Zambia’, Conservation biology 11(1997), pp. 59
Cf. D. Cooper, Governing out of order: space, law and the politics of belonging (London,
Rivers Oram Press, 1998).
This deployment of scientific authority in relation to wildlife has not received the same
scrutiny from historians and philosophers of science as from other branches of science.
K. I. MacDonald, ‘Rationality, representation and the risk mediating characteristics of a
Karakoram mountain farming system’, Human ecology 26 (1998), pp. 287
Formerly IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
In all, the Government of Pakistan approved 15 permits for the Northern Areas.
R. Garstang, pers. comm.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Resolution
of the conference of the parties (10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Harare,
Zimbabwe, 9
/20 June 1997).
Aslam Hushepa, pers. comm.
Government of Pakistan, Maintaining biodiversity in Pakistan with rural community
development: PCII (Islamabad, Environment and Urban Affairs Division, n.d.)
R Galpin, ‘Hunting the rare ibex’ (Washington, DC, National Public Radio, Living on Earth, 9
Apr. 1999, transcript); available at
Humane Society of the United States (1995), Big game, big bucks: the alarming growth of the
American trophy hunting industry (Washington, DC, HSUS, 1995). This increase can also be
tied to the loosening of regulations restricting the import of game into North America. The
consequent ability to ‘own’ and display the trophy may well increase the desire of hunters to
travel abroad.
The government’s share of revenue from trophy hunting, if it so chooses, can also be put into
ongoing conservation programmes. This is one reason why trophy hunting receives support
from international conservation organizations. Such programmes in Africa, for example,
commonly have a proviso that monies raised from trophy hunting (which fall within
government control) be used for conservation programmes: M.L. Corn and S.R. Fletcher,
African elephant issues: CITES and CAMPFIRE . Congressional Research Service Report for
Congress (Washington, DC, Committee for the National Institute for the Environment, 1997).
Proponents of limited trophy hunting of ibex, for example, include the International Snow
Leopard Trust, which supports it on the basis of the potential to increase the availability of
prey for snow leopard and reduce the motivation to attack livestock. In this way biodiversity is
used rhetorically to extend the interest of capital in control over ‘natural resources’.
D. Butz, ‘Orientalist representations of resource use in Shimshal, Pakistan, and their extra-
discursive effects’, in I. Stellrecht, ed., Karakoram
/HinduKush/Himalaya: dynamics of
change (Cologne, Rudiger Koppe, 1999).
World Bank, The Aga Khan Rural Support Program in Pakistan: a second interim evaluation
(Washington, DC, World Bank Operations Evaluation Department, 1990), p. 35.
This, however, is only an ‘official’ representation. There is, for example, an alternative
construction of space that centres on the assertion that the wholesome conditions of life in part
of the Karakoram contribute to the long and healthy lives of inhabitants. This discourse gave
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rise to and was reproduced through a host of texts written in the 1950s and 1960s that depicted
the lifestyle of the ‘healthy Hunzas’. See Dolphin, ‘The discursive construction of Hunza,
Pakistan in travel writing: 1889
/1999’ (MA thesis, Department of Geography, Carleton
University, Ottawa, Canada, 2000). Also, despite these pronouncements of an inadequate
environment, some research has highlighted the remarkable production potential of
cultivation in Karakoram villages. See P.T.S. Whiteman, ‘Mountain agronomy in Ethiopia,
Nepal and Pakistan’, in N.J.R. Allan et al., eds, Human impacts on mountains (Totowa, NJ,
Rowman and Littlefield, 1988); K.I. MacDonald, ‘The mediation of risk: ecology, society, and
authority in a Karakoram mountain community’ (PhD dissertation, Department of Geography,
University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada, 1995).
Given the major territorial dispute between India and Pakistan over the past 50 years, any
government-supported infrastructure development in the region has been primarily for
military rather than economic purposes. An example of such investment was the completion
of the Karakoram highway in 1976. This land route, however, provided access to the Northern
Areas for adventure tourists and, as a partial spin-off of tourism, large development and
international conservation organizations. See H. Kreutzmann, ‘The Karakoram highway: the
impact of road construction on mountain societies’, Modern Asian studies 25 (1991), pp. 711
36; H. Kreutzmann, ‘Challenge and response in the Karakoram: socio-economic transforma-
tion in Hunza, Northern Areas, Pakistan’, Mountain research and development 13 (1993), pp.
A. Escobar, ‘Cultural politics and biological diversity: state, capital and social movements in the
Pacific coast of Columbia’, in D. Lloyd and L. Lowe, eds, The politics of culture in the shadow
of capital (New York, Routledge, 1997), p. 206.
This expansion has experienced periodic setbacks, and tourism in Pakistan always rests on a
fickle economic surface. The first Gulf War, for example, caused a significant reduction in
tourist visits to northern Pakistan, as did the Kargil crisis of 1999.
K. I. MacDonald and D. Butz, ‘Investigating portering relations as a locus for transcultural
interaction in the Karakoram region of northern Pakistan’, Mountain research and develop-
ment 18 (1998), pp. 333
Despite the increasing access of the Karakoram to expeditions and tour groups, the area
continues to be represented as remote. Tourists are promised the opportunity to visit people
and places rarely experienced by outsiders. The glossy brochures of travel agencies also offer
travellers a look back in time at ‘places unchanged for centuries’, evoking the sentiment
associated with some distant past. This is not a new trope. Indeed, it was deployed by
Roosevelt and Roosevelt: ‘These caravan routes are practically the same today as they were
when a few adventurous Europeans pushed east over them in the late Middle Ages’ (East of the
sun, p. 2). These representations often result in antagonism between tour groups when they
find that promises of an exclusive and unique experience cannot be maintained in practice.
K. MacDonald, ‘Rationality, representation and the risk mediating characteristics of a
Karakoram mountain farming system’, Human ecology 26 (1998), pp. 287
A. Gupta, Postcolonial developments: agriculture in the making of modern India (Durham,
NC, Duke University Press, 1999).
K.I. MacDonald, ‘Where the wild things are: capitalized nature and the cultural politics of
‘‘community’’ in northern Pakistan’, paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
Anthropological Association, Washington, DC, Nov. 2001 (copy available from the author).
The emergence of heavily capitalized tourism in northern Pakistan has coincided with a rise in
the interest of conservation organizations in the region. There are a number of reasons for this
relational dynamic. One centres on the way in which space is brought under the sway of
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
global institutions. As international capital converts local spaces into international spaces of
consumption, these same spaces become the subject of conservation efforts, and conflicting
interests often compete over claims to be operating in the interest of conservation. This
relationship can be examined in northern Pakistan through recent efforts to create a number of
national parks in the region. These efforts have not been unproblematic, and the struggle for
space is evident in the tensions between villagers and government/NGO representatives
surrounding the establishment and management of protected areas in the Northern Areas of
Pakistan. See G. Schaller, Stones of silence: journeys in the Himalaya (New York, Bantam,
1979); B. G. Bell, ed., Proceedings of the International Workshop on the Management
Planning of Khunjerab National Park June 7
/16, 1989 (Washington, DC, US National Park
Service, Office of International Affairs, 1991); P. Wegge, ‘Khunjerab National Park in Pakistan: a
case study of constraints to proper conservation management’, in P. Wegge and J. Thornback,
eds, Proceedings of conservation of mammals in developing countries (Rome, Fifth
Theriological Congress, 1989); A.J. Knudsen, ‘Nature conservation in northern Pakistan: case
studies from Hunza, with special reference to the Khunjerab National Park’, in O. Bruun and A.
Kalland, eds, Asian perceptions of nature (Copenhagen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies,
1992); K.I. MacDonald, ‘A critical review of the Central Karakoram World Heritage Site
workshop’, in S. Fuller, ed., Proceedings of the Central Karakoram World Heritage Site
workshop (Karachi, Pakistan, IUCN-World Conservation Union, 1995), pp. 29
/44; J. Mock,
‘Objects of desire in the Northern Areas’, Himal 8 (1995), pp. 8
/10; J. Mock and K. O’Neill,
Survey on ecotourism potential in the biodiversity project area (Islamabad, World Conservation
Union (IUCN), 1996); J. Mock, ‘Mountain protected areas in northern Pakistan: the case of the
national parks’, in E. Bashir, ed., Proceedings of the Third International Hindukush Cultural
Conference (Karachi, Oxford University Press, forthcoming); D. Butz, ‘Resistance, representa-
tion and third space in Shimshal village, northern Pakistan’, ACME 1 (2002), pp. 15
This is a contested history at best. IUCN, for example, is not an organization that emerged out
of the ‘new’ environmentalism of the post-Apollo age. Rather, it traces its institutional roots to
1948, and can be genealogically connected to imperialist environmental concerns in the form
of the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire. This organization was founded
in 1903 by a small group of big-game hunters who sought to promote the establishment of
wildlife preserves in Africa and Asia. Ironically, this historical pedigree tends to give groups
like IUCN-World Conservation Union more credibility than some more recent organizations
tinged by the radical environmental politics of the 1960s. See R.P. Neumann, ‘Dukes, earls, and
ersatz edens: aristocratic nature preservationists in colonial Africa’, Environment and planning
D: society and space 14 (1996), pp. 79
D. Takacs, The idea of biodiversity: philosophies of paradise (Baltimore, Johns Hopkins
University Press, 1996), p. 75.
M. Flitner, ‘Biodiversity: of local commons and global commodities’, in M. Goldman, ed.,
Privatizing nature: political struggles for the global commons (New Brunswick, NJ, Rutgers
University Press, 1999), pp. 144
IUCN, for example, has positioned itself as a broker between national governments and
UNESCO in the recommendation of locations for World Heritage Site designation. This process
has not gone uncriticized. Guha, for example, notes significant cleavage between an
international environmentalism designed in ‘the West’ and marketed around the world to
receptive state governments, and an environmentalism that emerges from specific settings in
the so-called ‘third world’ and is usually hostile to state governments. R. Guha and J. Alier,
Varieties of environmentalism: essays north and south (London, Earthscan, 1998).
Global hunting grounds
A. Jamison, ‘The shaping of the global environmental agenda: the role of non-governmental
organisations’, in S. Lash, B. Szerszynski and B. Wynne, eds, Risk, environment and
modernity: towards a new ecology (London, Sage, 1996), pp. 224
/45. See also P.J. Taylor
and F.H. Buttel, ‘How do we know we have global environmental problems? Science and the
globalization of environmental discourse’, Geoforum 23 (1992), pp. 404
/16; Escobar, ‘Cultural
Jamison, ‘Global environmental agenda’, p. 224.
M. Goldman, ‘Inventing the commons: theories and practices of the ‘‘commons’’ professional’,
in Goldman, Privatizing nature, pp. 20
Jamison, ‘Global environmental agenda’, p. 226.
For example, the Pakistan National Conservation Strategy, drafted in 1991, which serves as an
environmental strategy and action plan, and guides environmental policy in the country, was
written with the advice of consultants from IUCN, WWF and the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA). Since its production, this document has framed the conduct of
internal environmental research and policy development in Pakistan. Its preface expresses the
basis of a discourse of global ecology: ‘Pakistan, like much of the world, increasingly views
environmental degradation as global in scope; the actions of one country can inadvertently
affect the environmental health of another. Indeed, even environmental problems that appear
to be purely national in dimension are often linked to worldwide trends, often in the context
of the economic chasm between North and South’: Government of Pakistan and IUCN-World
Conservation Union, The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy: where we are, where we
should be and how to get there (Islamabad, Environment and Urban Affairs Division, 1992), p.
1. This document stems from the World Conservation Strategy (WCS) established by IUCN/
WWF in 1980 which called for all countries to produce a national conservation strategy. A
measure of the importance of biodiversity as a foundational element in discourses of global
ecology is implicit in the title of the document that has superseded the WCS: Global
biodiversity strategy: guidelines for action to save, study and use earth’s biotic wealth
sustainably and equitably (Washington, DC, World Resources Institute/IUCN/United Nations
Environment Program, 1992).
Cf. W.N. Adger et al., ‘Advancing a political ecology of global environmental discourses’,
Development and change 32 (2001), pp. 682
J. Ahmed and S. Hussain, Community-based natural resource management in northern
Pakistan (paper presented at the International Workshop on Community-Based Natural Re-
source Management, Washington, DC, 10
/14 May 1998); available at http://www.worldbank.
Ibid., p. 3. Note the unproblematic homogeneous way that these social groups of
‘community’, ‘government institutions’ and ‘NGOs’ are represented, as if the interests of the
individuals who constitute these groups were all equitable and without conflict. I will return to
this problem below.
This recognition of criteria through which to define success already contradicts the assertion
that local people are in ‘the driving seat’.
This is an example of how expert-based social intervention uses the mechanisms established
by the AKRSP as a route of access to villages, and as the mechanisms through which to
introduce new technologies, innovations, or programmes.
Ahmed and Hussain, Community-based natural resource management, p. 8. We can see here
a problem from an ecosystem management standpoint. Rather than managing a set of
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
resources holistically, or within an understanding of a local environmental system, manage-
ment plans focus on the management of species or habitats in isolation.
Government of Pakistan, Maintaining biodiversity , p. 5 (emphasis added).
MacDonald, ‘Where the wild things are’.
P. Goodwin, ‘‘‘Hired hands’’ or ‘‘local voices’’: understandings and experience of local
participation in conservation’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 23 (1998),
pp. 481
/99; R.A. Schroeder, ‘Geographies of environmental intervention in Africa’, Progress in
human geography 23 (1999), pp. 359
/78; J.L. Hough, ‘Institutional constraints to the
integration of conservation and development: a case study from Madagascar’, Society and
natural resources 7 (1994), pp. 119
/24; A. Agrawal and C.C. Gibson, ‘Enchantment and
disenchantment: the role of community in natural resource conservation’, World development
27 (1999), pp. 629
/49; A. Knudson, ‘Conservation and controversy in the Karakoram:
Khunjerab National Park, Pakistan’, Journal of political ecology 6 (1999), pp. 1
This emphasizes the need for ethnographies of global institutions in order to gain a better
understanding of how they construct or adapt knowledges of their subjects. See J.P. Brosius,
‘Analyses and interventions: anthropological engagements with environmentalism’, Current
anthropology 40 (1999), pp. 277
/309; P. West, ‘Environmental NGOs and the nature of
ethnographic inquiry’, Social analysis: journal of cultural and social practice 45 (2001), pp.
Government of Pakistan, Maintaining biodiversity, p. 23.
Ibid., p. 23.
Ibid., p. 1.
There are grounds for believing that numbers below what might be expected given the extent
of habitat could well be due to decimation under the British administration.
Hushe villagers have opened new pastures over the past four years, but that is due to
pressures placed on old pastures by expanding, externally driven, adventure tourism activities.
Women, the primary pastoralists, feel unsafe occupying pasture lands that are crossed by
trekking and climbing expeditions, and have encouraged the development of new pastures.
This, however, does not amount to expanded pasture use, but to relocation driven by the
resource demands of new capital interests.
K.I. MacDonald, ‘Population changes in the upper Braldu valley, Baltistan, 1900/1990: all is
not as it seems’, Mountain research and development 16 (1996), pp. 351
Government of Pakistan, Maintaining biodiversity ,p.2.
Ibid., pp. 23 /24.
Escobar, ‘Cultural politics’.
Ibid., p. 203.
Much of this contest revolved around the significance of hunting for the construction of British
Indian masculine identity. Kashmir was produced in the popular imagination as a place where
ideals of masculinity were constructed and displayed, where young and old men demon-
strated the prowess of strength or the virtue of wisdom. See J. Keay, When men and
mountains meet: the explorers of the western Himalayas 1820
/1875 (London, Murray, 1977);
J. Keay, The Gilgit game: the explorers of the western Himalayas, 1865
/1897 (Oxford, Oxford
University Press, 1990); K.I. MacDonald, ‘Kashmir’, in J. Speake, ed., The literature of travel
and exploration: an encyclopedia (London, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003).
R.H. Thyacke, In quest of game: A sportsman’s manual for game shooting in Kulu, Lahoul and
Ladak to the Tso Morari lake with notes on shooting in Spiti, Bara Bagahal, Chamba and
Kashmir (Calcutta, Thacker, Spink, 1927), p. 55.
W.R. Lawrence, The valley of Kashmir (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1895).
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Ibid., p. 106.
Ibid., p. 107.
Such as the Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of the Empire (SPFE), established in
1903 (which claimed to be the world’s first international wildlife conservation organization),
and Roosevelt’s Boone and Crockett Club, established shortly afterward. Both these
associations, however, were concerned, not with wildlife per se, but with threats to the ability
of an elite class to secure exclusive hunting grounds.
M. Davis, Ecology of fear: Los Angeles and the imagination of disaster (New York, Vintage,
1998), p. 226.
J. Arbuthnot, A Trip to Kashmir (Calcutta, Thacker, Spink, 1900), pp. 25 /6. Just as colonial
hunters were reacting in India against challenges to their activities in Britain and modifying
local ecologies in the process, so too it would seem that international trophy hunters modify
local ecologies around the world in reaction to challenges to their activities at home.
Neumann, ‘Dukes, earls and ersatz Edens’, p. 87.
Lawrence, Valley of Kashmir, p. 107.
Though they could be provided with guns while they were in the employ of a licensed hunter.
R.C. Arora, In the land of Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit: with their history, places of interest,
routes, walks, and exhaustive information for the guidance of visitors to Kashmir, Ladakh,
Gilgit, Astor, Skardu, etc . (Aligarh, Unique Literature Publishing House, 1940), p. 285.
It is extremely difficult to provide an accurate sense of the effect of Raj-era hunting on the
faunal populations of Kashmir. Hunting records are tied up in the state repositories in Srinagar
and Jammu and it is difficult to gain access because of the recent troubles in Indian-held
Kashmir. If the photographs and counts in the ‘bag books’ are any representative indication,
considering that a significant minority of hunters actually wrote tales of their hunts, the
damage was severe, and is certainly tied to population dynamics in the region today.
Galpin, ‘Hunting the rare ibex’.
Cf. J. Breman, The shattered image: construction and deconstruction of the village in colonial
Asia (Dordrecht, Foris, 1989).
What is being poached, of course, is the trophy hunter’s ability to kill that animal because a
subsistence hunter has already claimed it.
Although it is early yet to speculate, it is possible to envision ecological consequences of these
schemes. As trophy hunting was instituted as an agreement with ‘the community’, it must
occur on land controlled by the village. Ibex, however, are a fugitive resource and considered
free by other local communities. A potential problem then arises when a contractual
agreement involving a spatially fixed resource (land) also applies to an object of desire that
is actually a mobile resource (ibex). The possibility of ‘escape’ from community control, and
thus a potential loss of revenue, creates a financial incentive to interfere with the migration
patterns of wildlife so that they remain on the land, potentially degrading its quality. In
addition, the benefits accruing to individual villages from what amounts to the private sale of a
‘resource’ considered to be free also has significant potential to mobilize hostility between
neighbouring villages, similar to that seen during the enclosure movements in Britain and
North America.
Witness opposition to protection of public lands in the United States; Multilateral Agreement
on Investment or World Trade Organization opposition to attempts to ‘limit’ the revenue
generating potential of investments; or the opposition of International Monetary Fund
Structural Adjustment Policies to the public management of lands.
Conservation NGOs rarely seem to ask questions of power. They are rarely familiar with the
decision-making structures of communities, modes of legitimating authority, power relations
Kenneth Iain MacDonald
and the trajectories of power that direct the benefits and damages of interventions. Often there
is an apparent assumption that authority speaks for all. And rarely is there recognition that the
promise of capital provides power to segments of the community that can radically redefine
access to resources.
Discovery Initiatives, ‘Pakistan/Northwest Frontier Province’ (Ecotourism advertisement /
Escobar, ‘Cultural politics’.
A. Bramwell, Ecology in the twentieth century: a history (New Haven, CT, Yale University
Press, 1989).
T.W. Luke, ‘Environmentality as Green governmentality’, in E. Darier, ed., Discourses of the
environment (Oxford, Blackwell, 1999), p. 122.
Ibid., p. 142.
By ‘trans-local ecologies’ I refer to the material human /environmental relations that emerge
through the spatial reach of global institutions and capital into the everyday social and
ecological relations of communities previously removed, to varying degrees, from those
See D. Butz, ‘Resistance, representation and third space’; A. Knudsen, ‘State intervention and
community protest: nature conservation in Hunza, Northern Pakistan’, in O. Bruun and A.
Kalland, eds, Asian perceptions of nature (Copenhagen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies,
1992); R.P. Neumann, ‘Local challenges to global agendas: conservation, economic liberal-
ization and the pastoralists’ rights movement in Tanzania’, Antipode 27 (1995), pp. 363
Global hunting grounds
... (Kopnina, 2016)The study aims to understand how environmental laws and policies promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, identify literature gaps, investigate emerging technologies and their potential role in environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, and document environmental laws and policies local and regional effects. (MacDonald, 2005) This article attempts to help accomplish sustainable development objectives and safeguard the planet's natural resources by emphasizing environmental factors in development methods. Sustainable growth and global prosperity depend on natural resource management. ...
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This research examines the intricate relationship between globalenvironmental regulations, biodiversity conservation, and sustainabledevelopment objectives. This study explores the difficulties andpossibilities related to biodiversity protection and sustainabledevelopment, including the reasons for biodiversity loss, governmentalpolicies, and business tactics, via an extensive examination of theliterature and qualitative research technique. It also emphasizes howcrucial fresh scientific discoveries and technological advancements areto attaining these objectives and raising public and legislatorcognizance. In addition to the advantages of biodiversity management,the study suggests additional research trajectories for related studiesin the future. They include the contribution of biodiversity to socialrehabilitation. It also acts as a call to action for all parties involved toadopt better strategies and tactics for protecting biodiversity andpromoting sustainable growth. Consequently, this work contributescrucially and promptly to the contemporary international debate on theconservation of biodiversity and the need for more sustainabledevelopment approaches. A more sustainable and just world for futuregenerations demands governments, scholars, companies, civil societygroups, and people to read this manuscript. The issue is the core needfor time to accomplish social errands effectively. The researchersanticipate this work would be highly productive for the socialrehabilitation ensuring SDGs. (PDF) Biodiversity Management and Sustainable Development Goals: An International Perspective on Environmental Laws and Challenges. Available from: [accessed Apr 30 2023].
... Although Botswana's Community-Based Natural Resources Management approach does contribute to poverty alleviation and job creation (Chevallier and Harvey, 2016;Mbaiwa, 2018), a solution that solely depends on single-source economic systems, such as the sale of licences to a small group of wealthy hunters, is not likely sustainable (Hackel, 1999;Kansky et al., 2020). A neoliberal system with neocolonial characteristics could exacerbate risks related to power dynamics and inequity in distributing benefits gained from wildlife (Büscher and Fletcher, 2020;MacDonald, 2005;Mkono, 2019;Wasser and Gobush, 2019). Moreover, trophy hunting alone cannot offset the costs of coexisting with elephants (e.g., injury or death, crop losses,or infrastructure damage), and thus generate a net benefit to communities, which hunting conservation models often aim for (Drake et al., 2021). ...
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Nature’s contributions to people diminish when people are alienated from nature. We developed a framework to help support more sustainable people-nature interactions in the context of the conservation of African elephants (Loxodonta africana and L. cyclotis). Elephants are iconic, and ecologically, culturally, and socio-economically important, but are also competing and in conflict with people who still benefit little from elephant conservation. We demonstrate how this framework can be used to address challenges over elephant conservation and management, and help achieve human-elephant coexistence, by (i) balancing integrity of nature with social cohesion and human wellbeing, and (ii) moderating the use of nature through widely accepted values, aspirations, and rights. The framework provides mechanisms for policymakers and managers to improve existing community-based conservation initiatives, promotes equitable policies for elephant conservation, and can be applied to the conservation of other iconic species that pose management challenges.
... For example, the IUCN began a program to halt declining ibex populations by implementing an international hunting trophy scheme, requiring locals to stop their historic and cultural hunting of ibex. The scheme failed because hunting was a source of prestige and status and selling trophy permits to wealthy international hunters did not remove all the incentives to hunt (MacDonald 2005). ...
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Poaching for the illegal wildlife trade is the most direct threat to the persistence of Amur tigers. Despite the recognition that reducing poaching is necessary to prevent extinction, the motivations that drive this activity are not well understood. Understanding this behavior is the first critical step to implementing tangible policy solutions. This study utilizes ethnographic methods to gather empirical evidence about the motivations associated with the poaching and trafficking of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East. By conducting interviews with those directly involved in the illegal tiger trade, three main motivations are identified: status and impunity, poverty (both economic and cultural/traditional poverty), and human/tiger conflict. Economic factors, due to the value of tiger parts for traditional medicine in China, is by far the largest influence on poaching in Russia. It is facilitated and exacerbated by systemic structural inequalities between social classes, including unequal distribution of power and resources and embedded corruption.
... On the other hand, critics argue that modernization processes and tourism development in conservation result in wrapping PAs and people in a modern market economy with capitalist relations, where profit-making and biodiversity conservation are prioritized over the concerns, needs and cultures of marginal displaced local people [8][9][10][11]. By affecting land use and land tenure, PAs impose considerable changes to local livelihood strategies, especially through confining agricultural development and exploitation of natural resources, which might further intensify rural poverty [12,13]. PAs in Nepal, for example, restricted traditional land access and land use rights, hence threatening the economic and social status of rural dwellers [14]. ...
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Protected areas (PA), especially biosphere reserves (BR), are considered effective instruments for nature conservation and rural development. However, their impact on rural communities constitutes the most controversial debate in conservation policy and practice. This study aims to reveal the perceptions of local communities towards conservation, the extent of the inclusion of local communities in the establishment and management of a BR and the impact of BRs on local livelihoods by exploring a case study while reflecting on major debates in the conservation and rural development paradigms. Mixed research methods focusing on qualitative methodology are used. By exploring a BR in Lebanon, this research highlights how the allocation and management of the BRs have not always reflected participatory, sustainable and community-based approaches. This study stresses the importance of the locals’ engagement in the whole conservation process. By putting people, their needs and perceptions at the center of decision-making, conservation agencies would shift the main objective of BRs from conservation to poverty reduction.
... For example, in Zimbabwe, the trophy hunting industry grew rapidly upon its introduction in the 1980s in marginalized and vulnerable communities under the Communal Area Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) (Gandiwa et al. 2013;Muboko and Murindagomo 2014). This sustainable land use concept associated with trophy hunting is supported by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which considers conservation to be largely characterized by sustainable utilization of resources for rural development (MacDonald 2005). ...
... For example, in Zimbabwe, the trophy hunting industry grew rapidly upon its introduction in the 1980s in marginalized and vulnerable communities under the Communal Area Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) (Gandiwa et al. 2013;Muboko and Murindagomo 2014). This sustainable land use concept associated with trophy hunting is supported by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which considers conservation to be largely characterized by sustainable utilization of resources for rural development (MacDonald 2005). ...
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This study was based on a temporal analysis of trophy quality trends and hunting effort in Chewore South Safari Area (CSSA), Zimbabwe, for the period 2009-2012. We selected four of the big five species, namely; buffalo (Syncerus caffer), elephant (Loxodonta africana), the leopard (Panthera pardus) and lion (Panthera leo) for analysis. Existing database of 188 trophies from 2009 to 2011 was reviewed and recorded using the Safari Club International (SCI) scoring system. Further, 50 trophies for 2012 were measured and recorded based on the SCI scoring system. Local ecological knowledge on trophy quality and hunting effort in CSSA was obtained through semi-structured questionnaires from 22 conveniently selected professional hunters in 2012. The results indicated no significant change in trophy quality trends of buffalo, leopard and lion (p > 0.05) over the study period. In contrast, there was a significant decline in elephant trophy quality trend over the same period (p < 0.05). The results showed no significant change in hunting effort over the study period for all the four study species (p > 0.05). Furthermore, seventy-two percent (72%, n = 13) of the professional hunters confirmed that elephant population was declining in CSSA and this was likely due to poaching. Professional hunters perceived trophy hunting as a source of financial capital generation for wildlife conservation (61%, n = 11), as well as positively contributing to the local economy (56%, n = 10). It was concluded that hunting has limited negative impact on species trophy quality trends when a sustainable hunting system is consistently followed in CSSA. CSSA management need to continuously monitor trophy hunting, animal populations and employ adaptive management approach to quota setting and species conservation.
... Heritage landscapes have most often been developed around the views and perceptions of the powerful elite through their nostalgic notions to preserve a picturesque past (Smith, 2006;Tolia-Kelly, 2013), and local knowledge or marginal identities have been excluded despite locals often having a deeper knowledge of their own land (Setten, 2004;MacDonald, 2005;Robertson, 2008). In places of heritage there is usually an assumed target audience, which excludes those whose experiences do not fit the dominant discourse. ...
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Certain deadening forces including disneyfication, museumization, and the standardization of heritagescapes have led to the loss of embodied, lived experiences. In an effort to (re)enchant how these landscapes are developed, managed, and encountered, a new landscape model is introduced that combines the more practical components of heritage management (locale and story) with strategies that explore the emotional and affective dimensions of phenomenological landscape experience (presence). Within landscape geography, the model provides a more concise methodology for landscape analysis. Bringing together often opposing perspectives, the model helps to peel back the different material, symbolic, and affective layers of landscapes. Within heritage and tourism studies, the model provides a vital stepping stone between theory and practice, and it serves as an accessible and replicable tool to study the complexity of the visitor experience and the different dimensions of historical landscapes. Applying the model in four sites associated with the Viking Age reveals the desire for more multisensory, hands-on, and individualized encounters with heritagescapes. This illuminates the need to thwart the deadening forces and reawaken the lived experience in landscapes of the past and present.
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In 2020, a Special Issue entitled Rural Development: Strategies, Good Practices and Opportunitieswas launched, in which 16 papers were published. The aim of this monograph was to study this problem with contributions in which different initiatives or projects are presented to reduce the demographic, economic and social imbalances between rural and urban areas. On the other hand, some studies highlighted the weaknesses that certain projects and programmes are having in achieving the same objectives. The papers presented were very diverse and provided cases in a wide variety of territories including European, American, and Asian. The different strategies presented focused on achieving rural development through the promotion of activities complementary to agriculture, such as rural tourism, the revaluation of natural heritage, the promotion of agroecological products, the industrial promotion of rural areas, the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Internet to improve their communications and teleworking, the design of sustainable housing for youngers and new settlers, etc. This book serves as a reference to showcase current papers that address more or less successfully sustainable rural development strategies. It is aimed at researchers from multiple and different fields such as geography, earth sciences, political science, economics, econometrics, econometrics, and other fields of study.
This article examines in detail how the forms of national or indigenous consciousness emerged in the sphere of Indian political ecology between 1857 and 1910. The subjects of “ecological indigeneity” and “dispossession” formed as defining characteristics in the articulation of this ecopolitical thinking. The scholarship to date has produced voluminous writings on the political, economic, and social dimension of the histories of colonial unrest, but it has not adequately addressed the issue of how the subtext of environmentalism greatly mattered in shaping some of the resistance movements. Focusing on the period between the 1857 revolt and 1910, this study evaluates three groups – (1) the 1857 Indian rebels and the Gonds; (2) the ādivāsī tribes of Bastar in 1910; and (3) the early Indian Congress Nationalists in the 1880s – to elucidate the emergence of environmentalism and indigenous dispossession in colonial India, which became foundational in critiquing British interventionist policies.
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Since European contact about 1835 a specific set of coercive labor relations-porters carrying loads for foreign travelers-has significantly shaped local/Western interaction in the Karakorum region of Northern Pakistan. This paper offers a preliminary attempt to outline some theoretical and methodological issues relevant to understanding portering relations as a historical and contemporary site for structuring cross-cultural interaction in the region. It draws on the concepts of contact zone, transculturation, discursive formations, and public and hidden transcripts. It then sketches the rough dimensions of an unfolding empirical project to trace metropolitan and indigenous transcultural discourses of self and other into, through, and out of the specific material relations of portering. Two brief examples discuss (a) the European-initiated formalized regulation of porter employment in the late 19th century, and (b) indigenous practices of publicly resisting unequal labor relations through strategically-situated work stoppages.
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Improved accessibility and attempts for integrated rural development in high mountain regions challenge the economic, social and cultural system of mountain societies. An examination of transformations in the Hunza Valley in the Karakoram shows how external interventions change the internal structure and economic conditions. Following a diachronic approach, the political and economic framework is analyzed and some aspects of recent sources of income are discussed. The decline of high pasturing, change in the traditional pattern of gender-related divison of labor, and the impact of development projects indicate that the subsistence component of production has declined while diversification and increase of non-agrarian income sources have occurred. The Karakoram Highway enhances geographical mobility and exchange relations between the mountains and the plains. -Author
Davina Cooper explores governing practices and agendas at the end of the twentieth century, focusing on institutional excess and political transgression, inevitable aspects of modern liberal rule. She examines the identity of the nation-state and its relationship to the wider community to consider the boundaries of the way we are governed. How far should state institutions be able to assert and implement their moral, ethical, and religious visions without losing legitimacy? Cooper illustrates the sites of tension that arise through a number of conflicts, applying recent socio-legal and political theory to her own original research. Governing Out of Order examines issues which include the way British courts have facilitated the privatization of local government, the Canada -- Spain fishing wars, how political and civil bodies struggle over national identity, homosexuality, education, hunting, and religious practice. Davina Cooper asks how governing can be both responsible and radical. She argues that governing principles should be ideologically explicit, prepared to contest and transgress divisions of authority to pursue a multi-cultural, egalitarian vision of political responsibility. Governing Out of Order raises questions and concerns echoed throughout liberal states. It will be a key book for students and scholars in political and social theory, law, and cultural studies.