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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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SPECIAL SECTION: GORONGOSA NATIONAL PARK, MOZAMBIQUE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 129-140

Producing Gorongosa: Space and the Environmental Politics of Degradation in Mozambique


Current affiliation: Department of Anthropology, California State University, Sacramento, CA; Research undertaken at: Department of Anthropology, Dowling College, Oakdale, NY, USA

Correspondence Address:
Michael Madison Walker
Current affiliation: Department of Anthropology, California State University, Sacramento, CA; Research undertaken at: Department of Anthropology, Dowling College, Oakdale, NY
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.164192

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This article examines the spatial production of the greater Gorongosa ecosystem, linking the production of space with scientific discourses on environmental degradation. Ecological research conducted in Gorongosa National Park (GNP) in the 1960s established the spatial contours and produced the greater Gorongosa ecosystem that is continually under threat from Mozambican cultivators. This discursive production and its material effects obscure a long history of human occupancy and transformation of the landscape that is now categorised as a national park. The use of aerial surveys and satellite imagery by conservationists to chart biophysical changes in the landscape is central to the spatial production of the greater Gorongosa ecosystem. The knowledge produced through these ways of seeing the landscape is used to justify various socio-technical and legal interventions to protect the environment. Through analysing the discourse on human-induced environmental degradation in GNP between 2005 and 2010, I suggest that when nature and space are taken as self evident by conservation practitioners, there is a danger of reproducing narratives of environmental degradation that simplify historically dynamic interactions between people, institutions, and their biophysical surroundings, and serve as further justification for intervening in the lives and livelihoods of adjacent residents.


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