Conservation and Society

ARTICLE
Year
: 2016  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 21--33

The good, the ugly and the dirty harry's of conservation: Rethinking the anthropology of conservation NGOs


Peter Bille Larsen 
 Department of Anthropology, University of Lucerne, Luzern, Switzerland

Correspondence Address:
Peter Bille Larsen
Department of Anthropology, University of Lucerne, Luzern
Switzerland

For the past decade, narrative portrayals of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) growing big, 'ugly', and business-minded have become common in both social science and public discourse. At a time when both engagement within NGOs as well as critical analysis from the outside has blossomed, how are the social sciences and anthropology in particular responding? This article suggests that a set of meta-narratives characterise much of the literature analysing conservation NGOs. Such narratives respectively position NGOs as doing good, turning ugly or acting pragmatically through what I label 'Dirty Harry' characteristics. While the critique of conservation NGOs offers a much needed 'reality check', it is time to revisit dichotomies of the 'good' past and the ugly present. The article reviews trends in the literature and offers a case study from the Peruvian Amazon. The final synthesis emphasises the need for a less essentialist perspective tracing heterogeneity and change of NGO activity over time.


How to cite this article:
Larsen PB. The good, the ugly and the dirty harry's of conservation: Rethinking the anthropology of conservation NGOs.Conservat Soc 2016;14:21-33


How to cite this URL:
Larsen PB. The good, the ugly and the dirty harry's of conservation: Rethinking the anthropology of conservation NGOs. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jan 22 ];14:21-33
Available from: http://www.conservationandsociety.org/article.asp?issn=0972-4923;year=2016;volume=14;issue=1;spage=21;epage=33;aulast=Larsen;type=0