Conservation and Globalization: A Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota

By Coffman, Jennifer | Journal of Ecological Anthropology, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Conservation and Globalization: A Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota


Coffman, Jennifer, Journal of Ecological Anthropology


Conservation and Globalization: A Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota. JIM IGOE "WADSWORTH/THOMSON LEARNING, BELMONT, CA, 2004. xii + 183 PP. $26.95 PAPERBACK

REVIEWED BY JENNIFER COFFMAN

The front cover of anthropologist Jim Igoe's book shows a jubilant and matronly woman, perhaps from South Dakota given the book title, with one hand clutching the hand of a Maasai warrior, and her other hand firmly wrapped around a beaded rungu, the quintessential symbol of Maasai manhood. The woman and warrior dance in front of other Maasai warriors, as well as other jubilant, matronly nonMaasai women. What's wrong with this picture? Everything and nothing. Maasai warriors don't hold hands with women, let alone older women. But the book cover clearly shows that they do. Women of any age do not carry rungus in Maasailand. Yet, the photo tells another story. The book's cover succinctly conveys the simultaneous normalcy and absurdity that is the intersection of conservation and globalization. How do protected areas attract tourists and their dollars? How do locals make a living? Who gets to design and manage the multiple types of conservation and ecotourism schemes? And most importantly, what has and hasn't worked, according to whose standards? These are the basic, complicated questions that enhance the author's research. He undertakes the challenge of responding to them in this chatty book directed to a young, American audience. With the use of analogies and popular culture references, the author attempts to make controversial issues surrounding conservation accessible and interesting. Though a worthwhile read for practitioners and academics working in East Africa, this book is best suited for undergraduates or high school students, especially in courses dedicated to environmental studies, anthropology, sociology or cultural geography.

Drawing mostly on ethnographic research beginning in 1992 in Tanzania, East Africa, the author launches the book with some basic explanations of and contexts for the terms conservation, globalization, ecotourism, and Maasai. This first chapter summarizes the author's experiences with how those four terms-and the ideas they represent-have become complexly intertwined in theTarangire National Park and Simanjiro District, Tanzania. Although some initial passages are inelegantly rendered, the author draws the readers into his narrative through personal anecdotes. Starting with his own trials as a budding cultural anthropologist and tracing the outline of his research over time, he demonstrates the challenges (e.g., gaining entry, accessing authoritative informants, negotiating hostilities among informants) and rewards (e.g., comparative studies based on multiple locales to help determine patterns, as well as aberrations) of multi-sited ethnographic research.

Conservation and Globalization finds its stride in the author's passionate critiques of the rise and fall of Maasai non-governmental organizations, discussions of which also lead to examinations of the various ways in which "conservation" has been deployed. These are the threads that run throughout the book. Chapter 2 presents how "Maasai resource management"-open-access and multiple-use systems that flexibly exploit various ecological niches-clashes with the fixed locales and restricted access of national parks. The author notes that although both systems promote anthropogenic landscapes, the ways in which those landscapes are managed and who manages and benefits from them vary greatly. …

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