Wilderness and its role in for the transnational conservation

It is now the time to rethink wilderness as is seemingly the claim by numerous environmentalists because the idea of wilderness characterizes many movements of the US. Among many Americans, wilderness is ideally the final concept for civilization where humans seek refuge from an own excess of industrial modernity. Indeed, Henry David refers to wilderness as the preservation of the world. However, there is more than meets the eye as regarding the historical background of this concept. It is human made by human cultures through encounters in human history. It is a product of civilization and can barely be contaminated by the materials for which it is made.

The unnatural aspect of wilderness is concealed in the mask that is beguiling as it seems to be very natural. It is a grave mistake to consider that wilderness can be a solution to the already persistent culture problems associated with the nonhuman world. In the late 18th century, the use of wilderness commonly referred to land scenes that are very different from what we see today. Being wilderness was attributed to desolation and general waste (West, Igoe & Brockington, 2006). The majority of associations were mostly affiliated with biblical connections to refer to areas on margins of civilization where one can get lost in moral confusion. In fact according to the Bible, the wilderness was the place where Moses wandered for four decades, and his flock nearly gave up on God.

Today, though, wilderness has become an aspect that is attached to deep core values of culture for which it is built and idealized (West, Igoe & Brockington, 2006). According to Roosevelt, modern Americans should cover such reservoirs of wildness because as our civilization grows older and more complex, we need a greater and not a less development of the fundamental frontier virtues. The price, he believed, for forgetting the nation’s frontier past would be degeneracy and the loss of messianic idealism. Roosevelt personally led the way in seeking the wild. Fresh out of Harvard, he spent considerable time in the 1880s on a ranch in the Dakota Territories Nash (1996) exulting in the pioneer’s life.  In the wilderness, there were distinct differences among human and non-human as well as boundaries between natural and supernatural.

The society as well as the attractions around it duly depends on free land on the wilderness. Therefore, in the US, within the vanishing frontier myth (Nash (1996) was characterized by advancement of wilderness preservation because if wild land became ideally crucial in defining what the nation is made of, then, one ought to save the last remnants which should become monuments for an insurance policy that protects the future. It is rather expected that the idea to have national parks set aside is a trigger move towards wilderness areas gaining real momentum. Giving protection to the wilderness is ideally a crucial sense of protecting the nations’ sacred myths of origin (West, Igoe & Brockington, 2006). One major component of the frontier myth is the strong regard among Americans that wilderness characterized the final bastion in defining the appearance of a rugged individualism. According to Turner there was a need to emphasize on communitarian themes in writing frontier history while taking into consideration that in their state of primitivism, Americans were obliged to band together with neighbors in order to build a community as well as democratic institutions.

In addition, decentralization, deregulation, and privatization had been perceived as the essential factors for attaining success in conservation matters. For this reason, private game reserves were on the rise alongside transnational conservation Non-Governmental Organizations which started publicly brokering conservation based organizational ventures (“Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea – Paige West – Google Books,” n.d.). Irrespective of the perception by ‘World Society’ which regards the world as being a discreet entity of states, private ventures, and NGOs, such relationships are key components for the formation of global networks of thought and action. The said networks include individuals at the community level and to the international levels for major corporations, as well as transnational conservation BINGOS.

The premises behind conservation development

Conservation development specifically is a result of the diverse history and hence essential in examining the social, economic, and political impacts with regard to environmental conservation endeavors that are initiated within certain protected areas. More consideration is attributed to persons that live in or are displaced from protected regions and also examining the global increment of protected regions in the previous two decades while offering proposals for future research works as projected in anthropology (Igoe & Brockington, 2002). Analysis of protected regions is adopted as a sure way of understanding the environmental consideration and culture or society as well as endeavoring management and control of their relationship. more focus is directed towards economic, social and scientific dynamism in areas that are protected.

On the other hand, fortress conservation is founded on three major assumptions: first, wilderness aspect is social as well as independent of human interference. Second, there is a huge difference between human beings and nature with the former being less involved as compared to nature. Finally, it is the role of humans to use nature in all manner of ways possible that is of benefit to them. Implementing the fortress conservation requires that local people within certain regions be assigned a zone as a protected area.  The latter areas include national parks and game reserves (Igoe & Brockington, 2002) for which they are evicted from their areas of residence and relocated. Doing this requires little or no assistance, and in most scenarios leaves the people suffering in abject poverty. It is most cases regarded as the green imperialism, in which case the concept of fortress conservation is apparent if conservationists such as NGOs or environmental bodies are bestowed with a responsibility to establish protected zones in a bid to develop a nation. In the past two and a half decades, the focus of anthropologists has drastically changed. From the local social setting to have experiences included for large-scale processes.

As a result, newer aspects of ethnography, as well as analysis, have been on the rise with titles such as colonization, post-colonization, and globalization. Environmentalism is another area that has attained massive consideration in the course of recent years. In the topic converge the major interest in the affected discipline is outlined in the interactions among local and the global partners along with the long termed concerns about how people relate to the environment around them. Such a convergence and increased engagement of anthropologists within applied issues are found at the center of interests that define anthropologists in conservation.

Different researchers have indicated that discursive creation along with subsequent separation of nature and culture ought to relate to the diverse global perceptions for actors engaged in conservation as well as numerous forms of liberation. Consequently, the sustainability of narratives present for worldwide discursive scale analyzes the perception of environmental activists and the rural peoples regarding their relations with the surroundings (Cronon, 1996). The latter indicates that negations over discursive productions is closely associated with material implications on land rights use. Researchers (Cronon, 1996) have demonstrated the effects of poaching and discursive production of people deemed separate from those causing damage to the environment. As a result, it has led to the ejection of Wanniya-Laeto people from the environs of the protected forests of Sri Lanka. Indeed, the use of materials from the Mekong areas of Laos, has shown a new definitions for land as well as land use that is duly imposed by the World Bank. This is aimed at separating people from their surroundings in a manner that hardly leads to sustainable development. Moreover, Nash (1996) argues that the concept of nature as spelt out by the Thai people is inclusive of human aspects though the international NGOs usually impose Western ideologies on matters of separation of nature and culture. Existence of  Thai protected regions has led to local people becoming resistant about creation of such protected zones. Besides, this leads to formation of alliances between the local NGOs and local people and built upon discourses for establishing an advocacy platform for human rights and sustainable development. For these reasons, the thought of wilderness as being a place which should not be commercially developed presents massive opportunities for formation of alliances among the local people as well as conservationists.

The Gimi people and their surroundings

In this section, there are addressed concerns in translation, valuing, as well as spatial production. These aspects ought to be in the center most part of environmental anthropologists. The research discusses these topics through an ethnographic scenario was chosen among Gimi-speakers of the Eastern Highlands region in Papua New Guinea (PNG).  These persons are often engaged in performing the Integrated Conservation and Development Project (ICDP) (The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea – Paige). The research study has in the last decade, conducted thorough research work among Gimi peoples along with their interlocutors, that is, missionaries, American Peace volunteers, tourists, and conservation practitioners. Working as an environmental anthropologist requires the ability to make translations as well as legible actions and beliefs for a number of actors.

Translation act that was made by professionals of translation, for example, lawyers, sociologists and anthropologists at times they don’t show that environment was symbolically and materially created. Instead, they aim at the environment as the knowledge that can be utilized and resources that one can act on. These translation act are in deep politics because have connections of claims that are volatile on the environments to identity and rights claims (The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea – Paige). According to the anthropologists’ arguments, the knowledge of environment has conservation and development values but some scientists of conservations have concurred. Many anthropologists of the environment try to make the conservationists get an understanding and value the local knowledge and translate it into categories that would be understood by the scientists, although the local knowledge with the scientific knowledge might be compatible. Doing so is owing to the fact that scientists without perception for the value of local knowledge have a bigger likelihood for proposing conservation policies which may not be socially equitable (The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea – Paige).

The human aspect of the production of space is indeed characteristically defined. However, the Gimi regard for ‘personhood’ is achieved by means of trans-active relationships among persons alongside the mutual recognition between them and other creatures. Also, there is a perception of forests as being produced by adopting exchanges among humans, their ancestors, and other creatures. Through the theory of spatial production which incorporates nonhuman acts, the Gimi perception of ‘personhood’ give more matter to the theories of spatial production. The Gimi spatial actions as affiliated with animals whereby animals are considered active beings whose duty is to populate their representations for space. Besides, their space representations are filled with animals symbolically. Personhood matters and environment do not easily get formed alongside the spatiotemporal relationships. The existence of Gimias in the world is dialectically associated with animal-as-being and in fact by the mutual recognition that the Gimi socio-ecological world is formed. If Gimi conceptualizes and applies biological diversity for their subsistence as well as ritual demands, they indeed assume positions in dialectical trans-active relations which make them in the form of people and animals whose role is that of active agents as well as forests as living social arenas.

The relationships are established under three categories that are, among people, and animals. These relationships are bound to cause Gimi subjectivity and also make Gimi forests. Subsequently, the generative relationships whose effect produces Gimi and space usually occur on five stages, that is, first, through auna which is life forces. Second, is the hunting of animals? Thirdly, some actions make forests a property. Fourth, is the social relationship aspect among persons, spiritual beings, and animals? Lastly, there is reproductive labor. In the understanding that  Gimi holds high value for forests and regarding them to be a potential commodity and their perception of Gimi as being a threat to forest existence.

From 1994, Game has taken participated in ICDP encompassing matters of labor, land, and live in general. The ICDP was from the start on the basis of the ideologies which Gimi could always ‘value’ and thereby accord it much ‘protection’ while taking to account biological diversity especially where economic livelihood has a direction connection. Moreover, the Biodiversity Conservation Network (BCN) which works as an affiliate company of Biodiversity Support Program (BSP), was involved in a short-period program whose funding was by USAID and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). As pointed out by the BCN architects, it was conceptualized in a bid to outline by adopting scientific principles, the optimal conditions for conservation.


Cronon, W. (1996). The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.Environmental History1(1), 7.

Nash, R. (1966). The American Cult of the Primitive. American Quarterly18(3), 517.West, P., Igoe, J., & Brockington, D. (2006). Parks and Peoples: The Social Impact of Protected Areas. Annu. Rev. Anthropol35(1), 251-277.

Igoe, J., & Brockington, D. (2002). Fortress Conservation: The Preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania. The International Journal of African Historical Studies,35(2/3), 594.

West, P. (2006). Conservation is our government now: the politics of ecology in Papua New Guinea. Duke University Press.

West, P. (2006). Conservation is our government now: the politics of ecology in Papua New Guinea. Duke University Press.