Dans le cadre du séminaire « Bouillon d'idées »
Critical scholars have started analysing conservation as a ‘mode of production’ which entails conservations inclination to transform the value of nature into capital. This mode of production is prefaced by particular labour relations which have thus far escaped a systematic analysis. To fill this gap, this presentation provides an in-depth discussion of the production of low-wage labour in the lowveld region of South Africa and its subsequent co-optation into private nature reserves. Through an analysis of archival documents, ethnographic data and life histories, I argue that these reserves were not just a benefactor of a racialized property and labour politics, rather, through land use changes, private reserves co-created a labour regime characterised by exploitation and dependency. This is followed by a discussion on ‘the state’ of low-wage labour where it becomes apparent that deplorable housing conditions, fear for one’s life, poor salaries, and long expensive commutes to work are all invisibly bound to conservation commodities. Ultimately, by presenting the ‘nature’ that the tourist consumes as pristine and wild, conservationists render unseen the time and energy expended by the labourer. Through these labour practices private conservation exposes its propensity to reproduce socio-economic crisis in the countryside, precisely because it is a capitalist mode of production.
Lerato’s doctoral research explores the implications of wildlife crime on the private wildlife economy in the lowveld region of South Africa. In the past seven years, beginning with her honours dissertation at the University of Cape Town, she has used conservation as a lens through which to understand first, how property is configured and what it enables in the wake of the land restitution process in democratic South Africa. Secondly, studying conservation as a mode of production has enabled her to examine how conservation land use can lead to environmental injustice and more broadly inequality. These dynamics have informed her PhD research question: How are the interrelations between green violence and the private wildlife economy in the lowveld region in South Africa, jointly affecting the politics of property and labour?
Le «Bouillon d'idées» est un séminaire proposé par le groupe de recherche «Développement, Sociétés, Environnements», dans lequel les chercheuses et les chercheurs sont invité·e·s à présenter une recherche en cours.
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