Special Issue "Perspectives on Conservation Humanities"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787). This special issue belongs to the section "Transdisciplinary Humanities".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2023 | Viewed by 2592

Special Issue Editor

School of English, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Interests: postcolonial literary/cultural studies; environmental humanities; animal studies; tourism studies/travel writing; contemporary film

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Broadly defined, conservation humanities is an emerging paradigm that exists within the larger multi- and interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities, and which aims at using humanities-based methods—textual and discourse analysis, philosophical and historical inquiry, ethnographic fieldwork—to shed light on contemporary conservation issues and problems, paramount among them being today’s alarmingly intensifying levels of biodiversity loss. Defining conservation humanities as a paradigm rather than a field is not just a reflection on the fact that its academic status has yet to be fully established. It also suggests that its main value, at least at this preliminary stage, lies in conceptualizing conservation problems rather than in seeking the kinds of direct evidence that might help to solve them, and indeed it shares environmental humanities’ general suspicion towards top-down, solution-driven approaches that fail to take account of local ecological knowledge or confront conspicuously unequal distributions of wealth. However, the task of conservation humanities is not limited to exploring ongoing conservation issues from a wide range of cross-disciplinary humanities perspectives; it also asks questions about the changing meanings and functions of conservation and the humanities themselves. This Special Issue, the first dedicated to its subject, will ask what role the humanities can play in addressing historical conservation issues, and what humanities scholars can add to contemporary conservation debates.

Prof. Dr. Graham Huggan
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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  • humanities
  • conservation
  • interdisciplinarity
  • environment
  • ecology
  • biodiversity

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Conserving Africa’s Eden? Green Colonialism, Neoliberal Capitalism, and Sustainable Development in Congo Basin Literature
Humanities 2023, 12(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/h12030038 - 08 May 2023
Viewed by 1886
Starting with European colonization, African natural resources in particular and nature in general have been coveted and exploited mainly in the interest of Euro-American industrialized countries, with China as a recent major player from Asia. Interestingly, the incessant quest by some Western NGOs, [...] Read more.
Starting with European colonization, African natural resources in particular and nature in general have been coveted and exploited mainly in the interest of Euro-American industrialized countries, with China as a recent major player from Asia. Interestingly, the incessant quest by some Western NGOs, institutions, and governments to protect and conserve African nature not only are inspired by ecological and climatic concerns but also often tend to propagate a false image of Africa as the last Eden of the earth in order to control Africa’s resources. Using literary texts, this article argues that some Euro-American transnational NGOs and some of their governments sometimes conspire with some African governments to spread global capitalism and green colonialism under the pretext of oxymoronic sustainable development as they attempt to conserve a mythical African Eden. Utilizing three novels and one play from the Congo Basin, namely In Koli Jean Bofane’s Congo Inc.: Le Testament de Bismarck (2014), Assitou Ndinga’s Les Marchands du développement durable (2006), Étienne Goyémidé’s Le Silence de la forêt ([1984] 2015), and Ekpe Inyang’s The Last Hope (2011), I contend that such Euro-American environmental NGOs and their governments sometimes impose and sustain fortress conservation (creation of protected areas) in the Congo Basin as a hidden means of coopting Africa’s nature and Africans into neoliberal capitalism. For the most part, instead of protecting the Congo Basin, green colonialists and developmentalists sell sustainable development, undermine alternative ways of achieving human happiness, and perpetuate epistemicide, thus leading to poverty and generating resentment among local and indigenous populations. As these literary texts suggest, nature conservation and sustainable development in the Congo Basin should not be imposed upon from the outside; they should emanate from Africans, tapping into local expertise, and indigenous and other knowledge systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Perspectives on Conservation Humanities)
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