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Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century)

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ISBN-13: 978-0822337492
ISBN-10: 0822337495
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Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea (New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century) + Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (a John Hope Franklin Center Book)
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Editorial Reviews


Conservation Is Our Government Now is a timely and significant contribution to contemporary critical scholarship on conservation. More than any other study of which I am aware, it provides an ethnographically rich, nuanced account of the encounter between conservation practitioners and a local community. It is an exemplar of the power of ethnographic writing to reveal other subjectivities and other ways of being.”—J. Peter Brosius, coeditor of Communities and Conservation: Histories and Politics of Community-Based Natural Resource Management

“Incisive, moving, and beautifully written, Conservation Is Our Government Now is an absolutely exemplary study and a completely absorbing narrative. It is quite simply one of the most sophisticated political ecology books I have read to date.”—Neil Smith, author of The Endgame of Globalization

About the Author

Paige West is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University.


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Product Details

  • Series: New Ecologies for the Twenty-First Century
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (May 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822337495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822337492
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Eben Kirksey on July 23, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A multispecies zeitgeist is sweeping anthropology. A central reference point for this lively conversation is a question that was first posed by Donna Haraway: "what counts as nature, for whom, and at what cost?" Paige West speaks to this question - exploring how the idea of nature was torqued during encounters among New Guinea highlanders, biologists, and other foreign ecophiles.

West illustrates how a hybrid environmental ethics was forged among competing political, economic, and symbolic systems. She offers us intimate portraits of long-distance, interspecies love. Describing photographer David Gillison's affair with the Bird of Paradise, she unravels a fetish logic that separates particular species from ecosystems and explores how commodification extracts nature from social relations. Chronicling ambivalent emotions - desire, mourning, and anxiety - she opens a window into the affective dimensions of trans-cultural and multispecies contact zones.

Set in the Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a place that was formed amidst countervailing institutional agendas and jockeying by diverse agents, this ethnography attends to how conservation was enacted amidst material and social inequalities. Some residents of Maimafu, a village in the Management Area where West conducted her fieldwork, engaged with environmentalists in hopes of chasing after the elusive idea of development. Even as some men from Maimafu reaped modest benefits from these social relations with foreigners, as they gained access to symbolic capital and modest sums of money, this conservation project initially did not directly benefit many women. It reinforced local regimes of patriarchy.
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