Reviewing 15 years of research on neoliberal conservation: Towards a decolonial, interdisciplinary, intersectional and community-engaged research agenda

Elia Apostolopoulou*, Anastasia Chatzimentor, Sara Maestre-Andrés, Marina Requena-i-Mora, Alejandra Pizarro, Dimitrios Bormpoudakis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this paper, we undertake an extensive review of the neoliberal conservation literature with the aim to explore and substantiate the principal ways in which conservation is neoliberalized in practice as well as who has studied these processes and through which collaborative patterns. Using descriptive statistics and thematic content analysis, we explore selected characteristics of the peer-reviewed scholarship, including most commonly used concepts, methods and topics, geographical and co-authorship patterns, critical readings of key processes of neoliberalization, including commodification, privatization, dispossession, governance rescaling, governmentalities, and its engagement with the economic crisis, austerity politics, and social struggles. Our analysis shows the breadth of the literature in unraveling the unequal social, spatial and environmental impacts of neoliberal conservation policies as well as a significant degree of novelty in terms of topics and theories. Nonetheless, it also unravels some key gaps, including a limited engagement with quantitative methods and community-engaged social sciences and humanities approaches, a lack of focus on urban areas and urbanization, some important gaps in the theorization of the commodification of nature, a domination of Global North scholarship that contradicts the clear empirical focus of the field on the Global South, a limited engagement with social movements and grassroots activism, and a conspicuous lack of attention to the dynamics of class, gender and race. We conclude by identifying key directions for future research to address current gaps in the literature, and initiate a shift towards a decolonial, interdisciplinary, intersectional, community-engaged approach and an in-depth encounter with everyday practices of resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-256
Number of pages21
JournalGeoforum
Volume124
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Commodification
  • Decolonization
  • Governmentality
  • Intersectionality
  • Neoliberalism
  • Resistance

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