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Transforming global “win-win” discourse

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Transforming global “win-win” discourse

Conservation projects increasingly employ particular “win-win” discourses to justify their work despite widespread empirical accounts of complex trade-offs and conflicts at local sites. Drawing on political ecology and social science concepts and literature, and detailed empirical fieldwork in northeast Peru, I demonstrate how projects framed as “win-wins” for people and nature are built around narratives that frame challenges, solutions and measures of success in internally coherent ways. These narratives are set within globally circulating discourses through which they are developed, strengthened and replicated as stories of “success”, even in the absence of any evidence that they have achieved their intended objectives on the ground in Peru. The result is the accumulation of global capital for a relatively narrow conservation and development problem-solution framework that fundamentally does not question power relations of the broader political economy, and at the same time, guarantees the continued (re)production of contradictory project effects. To explore possibilities for more transformative discourse, politics and models for socio-ecological governance, I attempt to first map out the power relations which sustain these dominant “win-win” discourses and linked intervention models, and then consider potential leverage points to disrupt and reconfigure these power relations.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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