The Cultural Context of Biodiversity Conservation
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The Cultural Context of Biodiversity Conservation

By Petra Maass
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Book Description

How are biological diversity, protected areas, indigenous knowledge and religious worldviews related? From an anthropological perspective, this book provides an introduction into the complex subject of conservation policies that cannot be addressed without recognising the encompassing relationship between discursive, political, economic, social and ecological facets. By facing these interdependencies across global, national and local dynamics, it draws on an ethnographic case study among Maya-Q'eqchi' communities living in the margins of protected areas in Guatemala. In documenting the cultural aspects of landscape, the study explores the coherence of diverse expressions of indigenous knowledge. It intends to remind of cultural values and beliefs closely tied to subsistence activities and ritual practices that define local perceptions of the natural environment. The basic idea is to illustrate that there are different ways of knowing and reasoning, seeing and endowing the world with meaning, which include visible material and invisible interpretative understandings. These tend to be underestimated issues in international debates and may provide an alternative approach upon which conservation initiatives responsive to the needs of the humans involved should be based on.

Table of Contents
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Prologue
  • Abbreviations
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 The interdisciplinary approach
    • 1.2 What's it all about?
    • 1.3 Research perspectives
    • 1.4 The conceptual scheme
  • 2 The global context
    • 2.1 Biodiversity and indigenous communities
    • 2.2 The Convention on Biological Diversity
    • 2.3 In situ conservation and protected area management
    • 2.4 Biodiversity conservation and indigenous knowledge
  • 3 The discursive context
    • 3.1 Environmental anthropology
      • 3.1.1 Contributions from political ecology
      • 3.1.2 Biodiversity as transcultural discourse
      • 3.1.3 Conceptualising nature
      • 3.1.4 Multi-sited ethnography
    • 3.2 Perspectives on protected area management
      • 3.2.1 Conservation paradigms and local livelihoods
      • 3.2.2 From conflict to cooperation
      • 3.2.3 From principles to practice
      • 3.2.4 The remaining quest for participation
    • 3.3 Anthropology of landscape
      • 3.3.1 The polysemic texture of landscape
      • 3.3.2 Environmental imagery and identity
      • 3.3.3 Of emplacement and emotional involvement
      • 3.3.4 A matter of worldview
    • 3.4 Anthropology of indigenous knowledge
      • 3.4.1 The conceptual dimension
      • 3.4.2 The empirical dimension
      • 3.4.3 The symbolic dimension
      • 3.4.4 The epistemological dimension
  • 4 The local context
    • 4.1 The national context
      • 4.1.1 Biological and cultural diversity
      • 4.1.2 Historical accounts
      • 4.1.3 From past to present
      • 4.1.4 Environmental policies
    • 4.2 The Maya-Q'eqchi'
      • 4.2.1 Local economy and social structures
      • 4.2.2 Historical references
    • 4.3 The conservational context
      • 4.3.1 The National Park Laguna Lachuá
      • 4.3.2 The co-management approach
    • 4.4 The ethnographic context
      • 4.4.1 The study sites
      • 4.4.2 Methodological considerations
  • 5 Local expressions of indigenous knowledge
    • 5.1 The context of doing
      • 5.1.1 Land use systems
      • 5.1.2 The milpa cycle
      • 5.1.3 Silvicultural and horticultural practices
      • 5.1.4 Further subsistence activities
    • 5.2 The context of meaning
      • 5.2.1 The indigenous worldview
      • 5.2.2 Agricultural symbolism
      • 5.2.3 Ritual practice
      • 5.2.4 The sacred landscape
    • 5.3 The context of change
      • 5.3.1 The dynamics of knowledge production
      • 5.3.2 Knowledge transmission in educational settings
      • 5.3.3 Origins of knowledge fragmentation
      • 5.3.4 Knowledge encounters in conservational settings
    • 5.4 Outcomes and prospects
      • 5.4.1 The seen and the unseen
      • 5.4.2 From present to future
      • 5.4.3 Towards a conservation of bio-cultural diversity
      • 5.4.4 Rethinking scientific assumptions
  • 6 Concluding remarks
  • Epilogue
  • References
  • Appendix
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