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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 334-345

Conservation is sexy! What makes this so, and what does this make? An engagement with Celebrity and the environment

Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, London, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Sian Sullivan
Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, London
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.92151

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This essay offers an engagement with Daniel Brockington's (2009) recent book Celebrity and the environment. I highlight the book's contribution to debate regarding processes of human displacement arising through biodiversity conservation under conditions of neoliberal capitalism. I first situate the book in relation to contemporary perspectives on displacement, justice, and human rights, using examples to illustrate complex and dynamic patterns of conservation inclusions and exclusions globally. This is followed by a summary of Brockington's typology of conservation celebrities, and of the ways in which celebrities assist with the amassing of conservation finance. I proceed to consider the roles of a celebrity-saturated mass media (and mediated) 'spectacle of conservation' in structuring social and consumptive engagements with the 'non-human' world globally. I draw attention to how diverse peoples in conservation landscapes might become part of the spectacle of conservation by reconfiguring themselves as cultural objects of touristic consumerism in a script not necessarily of their choosing. By way of acknowledging the significance of social networks and alliances in influencing conservation perspectives and practice, I close with a disclaimer regarding my own long-term collaborations with the author of Celebrity and the environment.

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