Toward conservational anthropology: addressing anthropocentric bias in anthropology

Helen Kopnina
  • Dialectical Anthropology, March 2012, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10624-012-9265-y

Conservation in anthropology: exposing anthropocentrism

What is it about?

Anthropological literature addressing conservation and development often blames ‘conservationists’ as being neo-imperialist in their attempts to institute limits to commercial activities by imposing their post-materialist eco-ideology. The author argues that this view of conservationists is ironic in light of the fact that the very notion of ‘development’ is arguably an imposition of the (Western) elites. The anthropocentric bias in anthropology also permeates constructivist ethnographies of human–animal ‘interactions,’ which tend to emphasize the socio-cultural complexity and interconnectivity rather than the unequal and often extractive nature of this ‘interaction.’ Anthropocentrism is argued to be counteractive to reconciling conservationists’ efforts at environmental protection with the traditional ontologies of the interdependency of human-nature relationship.

Why is it important?

Anthropological literature addressing conservation and development often blames ‘conservationists’ as being neo-imperialist in their attempts to institute limits to commercial activities by imposing their post-materialist eco-ideology. The author argues that this view of conservationists is ironic in light of the fact that the very notion of ‘development’ is arguably an imposition of the (Western) elites. The anthropocentric bias in anthropology also permeates constructivist ethnographies of human–animal ‘interactions,’ which tend to emphasize the socio-cultural complexity and interconnectivity rather than the unequal and often extractive nature of this ‘interaction.’ Anthropocentrism is argued to be counteractive to reconciling conservationists’ efforts at environmental protection with the traditional ontologies of the interdependency of human-nature relationship.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10624-012-9265-y

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Helen Kopnina