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Only what is counted counts? The scientific and economic representation of biodiversity

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  • UserEsther Turnhout, Associate Professor at the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
  • ClockTuesday 15 May 2012, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseSeminar Room, Department of Geography.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact kathryn humphries.

Biodiversity governance is characterized by a strong technocratic orientation. Science-based data, maps and numbers are used in the representation of biodiversity and inform decision making about conservation targets and priorities. In this talk, I will offer a critical engagement with the role of science and scientific knowledge in the representation of biodiversity and the implications of these representations for how we treat biodiversity in practice. My contribution is based on the central idea that biodiversity representations are not neutral mirrors of world but activity contribute to the constitution of biodiversity as a readable and governable phenomenon: they are performative. Subsequently, I will use the examples of TEEB and IPBES to demonstrate the emergence of an explicit economic discourse of Ecosystem Services and to analyse how this economic discourse connects with and complements existing technocratic biodiversity discourses. I will conclude by discussing the importance of critical scrutiny of the performativity of knowledge in critical accounts of the neoliberalization of nature and addressing the linkages between political ecology and science and technology studies that are required to achieve this.

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

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