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A feminist epistemological critique of conservation projects in Africa




Jones, Octavius, author
Souza, Caridad, advisor
Cespedes, Karina, committee member
Laituri, Melinda, committee member

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This study seeks to elucidate the roles that Western conservationists play in conservation's relationship with Indigenous communities and local ecologies within African countries. Employing a qualitative analysis of conservationist research practices, the study seeks to examine Western community-based conservation research approaches that value collaboration with the participants of study in order to ascertain whether and how conservationists incorporate women into their research. For the purposes of this thesis, the inclusion of women refers to local and Indigenous women in the communities where community-based conservation projects and research occur. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews were conducted with five CSU faculty who work on ecological research in Africa to tease out the epistemic foundations of Western conservation research practices. Findings show that the adoption of community-based approaches to research do not necessarily coincide with increased incorporation of women and their knowledges into conservationist research practices in the field. Women in local communities remain marginal to research practices that purport to promote equity with Indigenous people in the field based on collaborative methods. Findings also indicate that conservation research practices continue to marginalize women in local contexts in ways that make Western conservation efforts detrimental to global ecological protection and sustainability.


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