Guest Lecture: Governing nature, countering insurgencies?

Governing nature, countering insurgencies?
During this talk I discuss how nature conservation is, at times, used as a political tool to counter insurgencies. I will draw on my research in Virunga National Park in eastern DR Congo, where both soft- and hard counterinsurgency approaches and conservation have been merged. While nature conservation is increasingly presented as a way to contribute to ‘peacebuilding’, the militarisation of conservation in Virunga fuels, rather than mitigates, the dynamics feeding into armed mobilisation. During the talk l place the case of Virunga within the larger critical literature on the politics of conservation, and public authority in areas of armed conflict. To conclude, I discuss the importance to also analyse the perception and objectives of multiple rebel groups that control areas in or around protected areas - to gain a full understanding of the nexus between counterinsurgency and conservation. 

Dr Esther Marijnen focuses on the study of violent conflict, nature conservation and public authority from a political ecology perspective, with a specific focus on eastern DR Congo. She is working at Ghent University as a post-doctoral researcher.  During her PhD research she analysed the multi-scalar politics of violent conflict and conservation in Virunga National Park, DRC. The results of her PhD work informed various articles published in peer-reviewed journals. In her current research she explores how different rebel groups govern nature, and how they gain and enact public authority through various commodity chains, such as of charcoal, fish and other non-timber forest products.
You are all welcome at 10am @ Ghent University in Paddenhoek 1, 3rd floor.