Between ‘Conservation’ and ‘Development’: The Construction of ‘Protected Nature’ and the Environmental Disenfranchisement of Indigenous Communities


Conservation and development discourses are the two main frameworks in which global debates on how to relate to nature occur. These discourses are considered as opposed; while conservation discourses argue for the maintenance of nature in its pristine state, development discourses seek to justify re-engineering spaces to give place to cities, monocultures and roads. However, both discourses have one practical consequence in common: the environmental disfranchisement of Indigenous communities. This article uses the case of the Ecuadorian Yasuní Park to show how the implementation of both conservation and development discourses ultimately disempower Indigenous communities. We use media reports and governmental statements to document the Yasuní case. A critical analysis of the dynamics behind this and other cases allows us to expose the misleading messages, the ironic consequences and the false motives involved in some conservation projects.

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Published: 2019-08-19
Pages:89 to 104
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How to Cite
Goyes, D. R. and South, N. (2019) “Between ‘Conservation’ and ‘Development’: The Construction of ‘Protected Nature’ and the Environmental Disenfranchisement of Indigenous Communities”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 8(3), pp. 89-104. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v8i3.1247.

Author Biographies

Antonio Nariño University, Colombia and University of Oslo, Norway

David Rodríguez Goyes is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Oslo, Norway. He holds a PhD in criminology from the University of Oslo, Norway. He is a lawyer by training, with postgraduate studies in criminal law and a masters in sociology. His main field of research is green criminology, with a focus on biopiracy and on Indigenous issues. His greatest contribution to the field is in the development of a Southern green criminology.

University of Essex
 United Kingdom

Nigel South is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Criminology, University of Essex, England, and a visiting Adjunct Professor at the Crime and Justice Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology. He is a co-editor of Environmental Crime in Latin America: The theft of nature and the poisoning of the land, London: Palgrave.