University of Cambridge > > Political Ecology Group meetings > Assembling Conservation as Territoriality in Timor-Leste.

Assembling Conservation as Territoriality in Timor-Leste.

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Political ecology research has been attentive in illuminating the processes of protected area creation as a conduit of state territorialisation. Practices of physical and institutional discipline by the state and related conservation partners are oft entangled in the production of spatial legitimacies of control. However, arguably more important in such processes is the effectual articulation of rights to landscape, which here is framed through sovereign conservation imperatives and development. Few studies have critically detailed how the variegated components of environmental knowledges are (co)-produced and assembled so as to scaffold eco-political discourses of state authority over the national margins. This paper attempts this by examining the establishment of Timor-Leste’s first national park in the forests that previously were ground zero for guerrilla resistance against Indonesian occupation. It highlights the importance of narrative and discourse in a post-conflict arena where formalised governance is weak and resource funding low. The national park is shown to be a complex site where histories of violence, livelihoods, national identity and neoliberal development intersect with new “eco-logical” reasoning. However, by unpacking the different discursive components of Timorese conservation control, it is shown that they conceal serious contradictions which work to undo the spatial authority state conservation seeks to make.

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

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