Conservation and development in the digital era

International conservation, like much of international development is becoming more violent and militarized. Some analysts identify the emerging battle lines in conservation as between those defending nature and those attacking it, and battle lines in international development as pitting those supporting humanist modernisation against those attacking it.

This lecture, by contrast, explores the possibility that such violence is increasingly between ‘the included’ and ‘rogues’ and in ways that transcend any nature:society binary and that unite these conservation and development discourses.

This talk will trace the emergence of these battle lines to technological developments associated with the digital information revolution that are at once producing discourses and practices of inclusion that embrace social and natural worlds, whilst recasting a hitherto knowable and governable ‘excluded’ as more unknowable and threatening ‘rogues’. I will illustrate this by outlining how the battle against the ‘invisible enemy’ of Ebola was fought not just against rogue viruses but against rogue bats, rogue deforesters and rogue patients, transcending the nature:human binary, and similarly that sustainable solutions are being sought in rearranging landscapes within an inclusive ‘One Health’ approach.

An overarching aim is to consider how the technological revolution might be more determinant of contemporary discourse driving international development than we might care to admit, and what its implications might be.