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A critical analysis of the discourses of conservation and science on the Galápagos Islands

Cairns, Rose (2011) A critical analysis of the discourses of conservation and science on the Galápagos Islands. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Conservation of the world’s biodiversity is a paradigmatic example of a ‘wicked problem’, a problem that resists resolution because it is defined, experienced and measured differently by different people, in ways that are inseparable from a range of competing value positions. Drawing insights from political ecology, policy sciences and science studies, this thesis examines the discursive struggles around conservation in the Galápagos Islands. It charts the historical rise of a narrative of ecological crisis on the islands, examines the multiple ways in which ‘the problem’ of conservation is understood in contemporary Galápagos society, and reveals the different ways in which the role of science and (different types of) scientific knowledge are constructed in these debates. The thesis is split into three empirical sections. The first takes a historical approach, illustrating the ways in which the entwined histories of science and conservation have played a key role in the discursive transformation of the islands from a damned/worthless place to a ‘natural laboratory’ and finally a ‘paradise in peril’. The second section examines the discourses of conservation currently held by the range of Galápagos stakeholders, highlighting the political nature of apparently apolitical environmental discourses, and problematizing recent calls for Galápagos society to mobilize around a ‘shared vision’ of conservation on Galápagos. The final section examines how members of the ‘conservation community’ understand the role of science in conservation on the islands. The results illustrate the multiple ways in which the boundary between science and society on Galápagos is constructed and contested, and these findings are used to critique arguments that more science necessarily holds the key to the achievement of sustainable development and conservation in the archipelago.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Biological Sciences (Leeds)
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2012 09:22
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2301

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