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A Spectacular Eco-Tour around the Historic Bloc: Theorising the Convergence of Biodiversity Conservation and Capitalist Expansion

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The simultaneous proliferation of protected areas for biodiversity conservation and neoliberal market expansion has sparked a growing body of work, which suggests that these are mutually reinforcing processes that reflect alliances between conservationist and capitalist agendas. Because this alliance is so counter intuitive to the ways in which biodiversity conservation is popularly understood, theoretical perspectives concerning these relationships have been slow in emerging. Drawing from Gramsci's ideas of hegemony and historic bloc, we propose a theoretical framework systematically to inform understandings and investigations of these transformations. We suggest that they are driven by the convergence of networks of interests, which work to resolve the apparent contradictions between demands for continued economic growth and growing concerns about what it portends for the future of our planet. These in turn rely on spectacular presentations of conservation interventions, conservation success stories, and their putative linkages to ecosystems and the global economy.

Keywords: Spectacle; capitalism; conservation; hegemony; historic bloc; neoliberalism; protected areas

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College;, Email: 2: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia University, Canada;, Email: 3: School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, UK;, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2010


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