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Biodiversity, Purity, and Death: Conservation Biology as Biopolitics

Biodiversity, Purity, and Death: Conservation Biology as Biopolitics This paper draws on the Foucauldian notion of biopower to renarrate the development of conservation science in the US as a form of liberal biopolitical rule. With its emphasis on making nature live, conservation marks a shift away from a sovereign form of rule that emphasized subduing and controlling nature; today, nature is ruled not by the sword but by science. Through a discussion of key concepts in conservation biology—populations in crisis; evolution and its future orientation; extinction as death that is necessary for life; and diversity as purity—we illustrate the truth discourses, underlying logics, and calculative technologies by which distinctions within nonhuman life are made and made meaningful. We argue that conservation is biopolitical not just in that it moves from controlling individuals to statistically managing populations and species, but also in that it extends the racialized logic of abnormality in its core notions of biological diversity and purity. In the logics of conservation and race, life produces diversity, conceived as variety of biological kinds; within that diversity exist kinds that foster ongoing life, which should be maximized, and kinds that are threats, which should be let die in the name of life in general. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Environment and Planning D: Society and Space SAGE

Biodiversity, Purity, and Death: Conservation Biology as Biopolitics

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References (81)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2014 SAGE Publications
ISSN
0263-7758
eISSN
1472-3433
DOI
10.1068/d13047p
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper draws on the Foucauldian notion of biopower to renarrate the development of conservation science in the US as a form of liberal biopolitical rule. With its emphasis on making nature live, conservation marks a shift away from a sovereign form of rule that emphasized subduing and controlling nature; today, nature is ruled not by the sword but by science. Through a discussion of key concepts in conservation biology—populations in crisis; evolution and its future orientation; extinction as death that is necessary for life; and diversity as purity—we illustrate the truth discourses, underlying logics, and calculative technologies by which distinctions within nonhuman life are made and made meaningful. We argue that conservation is biopolitical not just in that it moves from controlling individuals to statistically managing populations and species, but also in that it extends the racialized logic of abnormality in its core notions of biological diversity and purity. In the logics of conservation and race, life produces diversity, conceived as variety of biological kinds; within that diversity exist kinds that foster ongoing life, which should be maximized, and kinds that are threats, which should be let die in the name of life in general.

Journal

Environment and Planning D: Society and SpaceSAGE

Published: Apr 1, 2014

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