GEOG 430
Human Use of the Environment

Neumann "Moral and discursive geographies in the war for biodiversity in Africa"


Roderick Neumann is a professor of Geography and Chair of the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies at Florida International University. His research investigates how our conceptions of nature shape the landscape and on the conflict and violence associated with conservation areas in Africa. Since the 1980s, several African governments have responded to declining wildlife populations by issuing shoot-on-sight orders for ‘‘poachers’’ found within national parks. Neumann argues that biodiversity is being used to justify violence and human rights abuses.

As you read and reflect, consider the following questions:

  • How are Malthus's ideas about overpopulation growth and resource scarcity central to the logic of "shoot-to-kill" approaches to wildlife poaching?
  • Can you identify the different ideas about nature (and the value of animal lives) at stake in these different conservation models?
  • Pay close attention to how lines of difference are drawn between groups of people. In war-like models of wildlife conservation, who is "us" and who is "them"? Which people (and animals) are the government protecting? Which people are labeled as the enemy?
  • How are gender, race and colonial history used to simultaneously humanize wildlife and dehumanize poachers?

Registered students can access the reading in Canvas.