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In the Name of Conservation: the impact of ecological changes, neoliberal policies, and social and environmental imaginaries on traditional parrot hunting among indigenous Jamaican Maroons

Gibson, Lydia Nicole; (2021) In the Name of Conservation: the impact of ecological changes, neoliberal policies, and social and environmental imaginaries on traditional parrot hunting among indigenous Jamaican Maroons. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Cockpit Country is a dense, upland forest in west-central Jamaica. Its distinctly unnavigable terrain created a “green armour” around Maroon societies during the 18th century war against the British Empire that secured their autonomy and recognition as indigenous peoples. In the present day, it remains a refuge for rare species and Maroon communities. In November 2017, the Jamaican Prime Minister announced plans to designate Cockpit Country as a protected area after years of anti-mining campaigns involving numerous stakeholders. Among them was a Maroon community with whom I had just begun research, following a small group of traditional parrot hunters. What started as an ethnographic exploration of resource use and Maroon history soon broadened, after the announcement, into a socio-ecological study of species conservation, cultural preservation, indigenous knowledge systems, and speaking against extractive industries, all centring around the moniker of “conservation”, giving rise to my question: what, precisely, is conservation? After three years studying conservation action across local and global scales and engaging in conservation praxis, I have come to see conservation as a spectacle: a representational form that eulogizes the political, social, and environmental actions of particular actors within natural spaces. In doing so, it both justifies and dismisses the movement of different forms of capital, washing clean the hands of capitalism while fencing the poor into reservoirs of cultural, agricultural, and labour exploitation. By examining ways that parrot hunting practices have been shifted, nudged, distorted, or transformed, this thesis explores how the spectacle of conservation works. How it is sustained and reproduced through articulations of indigeneity, science, nature, morality. How the “particular actors” become indoctrinated into the spectacle. The necessary practices they must adopt and, drawing from Stuart Hall and Tania Li, the way their identities and intentions must be articulated. I draw from Pierre Bourdieu to contrast the spectacle of conservation with the materiality and sociality of everyday actions through which forms of capital are continually redistributed. In each chapter, I explore a particular imaginary: indigenous practices; environmental change; stakeholder participation; species extinction; and plastic pollution. Each begins with an experience of a hunt, relying on a number of literary devices and the thickest of descriptions to represent the everyday robustly enough to contrast against conservation’s global discourses. Through these counter-images, I trace the movement of capital to understand how these imaginaries reproduce themselves and the objects they collateralise. I end with a discussion of the consequences of leaving everyday practices unseen, unremembered, or unacknowledged in the shadow cast by the spectacle.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: In the Name of Conservation: the impact of ecological changes, neoliberal policies, and social and environmental imaginaries on traditional parrot hunting among indigenous Jamaican Maroons
Event: UCL
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10123791
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