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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 : 141-153

Narrative Fortresses: Crisis Narratives and Conflict in the Conservation of Mount Gorongosa, Mozambique


Current affiliation: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA; Research carried out at: Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Christy Schuetze
Current affiliation: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA; Research carried out at: Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.164193

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A single narrative about the Gorongosa Restoration Project (GRP) in Mozambique circulates widely in the popular media. This story characterises the project as an innovative intervention into an ecological crisis situation. The narrative hails the project's aim to use profits from tourism to address the goals of both human development and conservation of biodiversity, and portrays the park project as widely embraced by long-term residents. This representation helps the project attract broad acclaim, donor funding, and socially conscious visitors, yet it obscures the early emergence of unified opposition to the project's interventions among long-term residents of Gorongosa Mountain. This article draws on ethnographic research conducted on Gorongosa Mountain between 2006 and 2008 to examine the project's early activities there. I examine two crisis narratives that led to entrenched conflict between park-based actors and mountain residents. Focusing on the emergence and solidification of divergent narratives-narrative fortresses-about the extension of the park's activities to Gorongosa Mountain offers insight into the powerful role of crisis narratives in producing and maintaining conflict, leading to outcomes counter to the desires of conservationists. Ultimately, the article points to ways in which narratives of environmental crisis work against aspirations of partnership and collaboration with resident populations in conservation and development schemes.


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