Decolonizing Conservation with Prakash Kashwan (In Conversation)


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What if what we thought we knew about environmental conservation is wrong and it’s not the ethical and regenerative movement we thought it was? Turns out the philosophy and practices of conservation — pioneered by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir — are intimately intertwined with colonialism, imperialism, and racialized capitalism. And, unfortunately, this isn’t just a historical analysis — it’s a legacy that has continued well into the movement’s modern day configurations. In fact, things may have even gotten worse. This is according to a recent paper in the journal Environment titled "From Racialized Neocolonial Global Conservation to an Inclusive and Regenerative Conservation." In the paper, the authors outline the problems with mainstream conservation methods and policies — policies that impose artificial binaries between Indigenous communities and the lands they have stewarded, perpetuating patterns of extractivism and greenwashing and leading to countless harms inflicted onto these communities all in the name of 'wildlife preservation.' In this Conversation we’ve brought on the paper’s lead author, Prakash Kashwan, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Research Program on Economic and Social Rights at the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut. Prakash is the author of the widely reviewed and acclaimed book "Democracy in the Woods" and a Co-Editor of the journal Environmental Politics. He also serves on the editorial advisory boards of Earth Systems Governance, Progress in Development Studies, Sage Open, and Humanities & Social Sciences Communications. How is much of the modern conservation movement still steeped in its racist, colonial, imperial past? And what might an inclusive and regenerative conservation look like? Join us to explore these questions and more. You can request a full-text version of the paper From Racialized Neocolonial Global Conservation to an Inclusive and Regenerative Conservation at Research Gate ( You can also write to Prakash to request a pdf copy of the paper at Thank you to The Breeders for the intermission music and to Bethan Mure for the cover art. Upstream theme music was composed by Robert Raymond. Support for this episode was provided by the Guerrilla Foundation and by listeners like you. Upstream is a labor of love — we couldn't keep this project going without the generosity of our listeners and fans. Please consider chipping in a one-time or recurring donation at Also, if your organization wants to sponsor one of our upcoming episodes, we have a number of sponsorship packages available. Find out more at For more from Upstream, visit and follow us on social media: You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcast and Spotify: Apple Podcast:…am/id1082594532 Spotify:

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