Decolonize Conservation: Global Voices for Indigenous Self-Determination, Land, and a World in Common

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    Ashley Dawson & Survival International

    Publisher: Common Notions

    Year: 2023

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 256 pages

    ISBN: 9781942173762

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With a deep, anticolonial and antiracist critique and analysis of what “conservation” currently is, Decolonize Conservation presents an alternative vision–one already working–of the most effective and just way to fight against biodiversity loss and climate change. Through the voices of largely silenced or invisibilized Indigenous Peoples and local communities, the devastating consequences of making 30 percent of the globe “Protected Areas,” and other so-called “Nature-Based Solutions” are made clear.

Evidence proves Indigenous people understand and manage their environment better than anyone else. Eighty percent of the Earth’s biodiversity is in tribal territories and when Indigenous peoples have secure rights over their land, they achieve at least equal if not better conservation results at a fraction of the cost of conventional conservation programs. But in Africa and Asia, governments and NGOs are stealing vast areas of land from tribal peoples and local communities under the false claim that this is necessary for conservation.

As the editors write, “This is colonialism pure and simple: powerful global interests are shamelessly taking land and resources from vulnerable people while claiming they are doing it for the good of humanity.”

The powerful collection of voices from the groundbreaking “Our Land, Our Nature” congress takes us to the heart of the climate justice movement and the struggle for life and land across the globe. With Indigenous Peoples and their rights at its center, the book exposes the brutal and deadly reality of colonial and racist conservation for people around the world, while revealing the problems of current climate policy approaches that do nothing to tackle the real causes of environmental destruction.

About the Contributors

About the EDITORS

Ashley Dawson is Professor of Postcolonial Studies in the English Department at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York and the College of Staten Island. His latest books include People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy CommonsExtreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change, and Extinction: A Radical History.

Fiore Longo is a Research and Advocacy Officer at Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples. She is also the director of Survival International France and Spain. She coordinates Survival’s conservation campaign and has visited many communities in Africa and Asia that face human rights abuses in the name of conservation. She has also visited Indigenous communities in Colombia and worked on Survival’s Uncontacted Tribes campaign. 

Since 1969, Survival International has worked in partnership with tribal communities around the world, and together with supporters from over one hundred countries worldwide, to lead hundreds of successful campaigns for tribal peoples’ rights. The movement is helping to build a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. 


Celeste Alexander completed a master’s degree and dissertation research in Anthropology at Princeton University and is currently ABD. She conducted fieldwork in Tanzania with Ikoma persons and neighboring communities along the western border of Serengeti National Park and among conservation, development, and tourism professionals. Celeste’s ethnographic work questions the efficacy and injustice of racialized “correctional” approaches to biodiversity conservation. Prior to her doctoral studies, Celeste worked for several years at the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

Noé Amador is currently the Community Delegate of Laguna del Tigre and Sierra del Lacandón, in the province of Petén, Guatemala. Noé is a farmer and from a very young age was an advocate for the human rights of these communities.

Guillaume Blanc is a lecturer at Rennes 2 University. An environment historian, he currently studies the global governance of nature and people in modern Africa. He is in charge of the collection “Environmental History” at Sorbonne Editions, where he has published, among others books, Une histoire environnementale de la nation (2015) and coedited Humanités environnementales: Enquêtes et contre-enquêtes (2017). His latest book, L’invention du colonialisme vert: Pour en finir avec le mythe de l’Éden africain, was published in 2020 by Flammarion.

Neema Pathak Broome studied environmental science before obtaining a postgraduate degree in wildlife management. As a member of Kalpavriksh, she coordinates the Conservation and Livelihoods program, where she advocates for decentralized, equitable, diverse, and context-sensitive conservation governance. Her work focuses on Indigenous and community heritage areas and territories (ACHAs). She has compiled a Directory of Community Conserved Areas (CCAs) in India and published numerous articles and books on conservation governance. Neema is coordinating a local community conservation process in eight villages in and around the Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra. She is also very involved in the ICCA Consortium in South Asia.

Josefa Sanchez Contreras belongs to the Zoque people of San Miguel Chimalapa, Oaxaca. She is a defender of the territory against extractivist mining projects. Researcher and Master in Latin American Studies from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Among her outreach works, she has published in the Washington Post and collaborates on Ojarasca, a monthly supplement of the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, with articles on energy colonialism, communality, and Indigenous movements in Latin America.

Simon Counsell is an independent researcher and writer on conservation, human rights, and “nature-based” climate solutions, and currently an advisor to the international Indigenous rights advocacy group Survival International. He was for twenty-three years the Executive Director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, a London-based NGO which supports Indigenous and traditional peoples of the world’s rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights. He has been on the front line of campaigns to protect the world’s forests for more than three decades, previously leading the international forests campaign for Friends of the Earth. He has a BSc in Environmental Science and an MSc in Forestry and Land Use from Oxford University.

Pranab Doley is an Indigenous activist from the Mising people; a founding member and former advisor to JKSS, a farmers’ and Indigenous-rights organization; and the Assistant Secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Assam. He has an MA in Social Work from the TATA Institute of Social Sciences. In 2021, he stood as an independent candidate in the Assam Assembly election, coming second to a sitting cabinet minister. Pranab has been instrumental in bringing global attention to large-scale human rights violations in and around Kaziranga National Park, holding the Forest Department and conservation NGOs to account. As a result of his activism, he has been harassed by the authorities and had multiple false criminal cases filed against him.

Rosaleen Duffy is Professor of International Politics at the University of Sheffield. She is an expert on the international politics of conservation, especially the intersections between political ecology, social justice, and environmental change. Her research interests include the politics of protected areas, tourism, illegal wildlife trade, and global environmental governance. She has written several books, including an upcoming monograph on biodiversity and security with Yale University Press, which examines the ways in which the turn towards security and militarization to tackle illegal wildlife trade is reshaping conservation. She is currently Principal Investigator on an ESRC-funded project examining illegal wildlife trade in Europe in bears, European eels, and songbirds.

Lara Domínguez is Acting Head of Litigation at Minority Rights Group (MRG). She has oversight of MRG’s strategic litigation docket and has represented forest-dwelling Indigenous Peoples in East and Central Africa evicted in the name of conservation. Lara has published on issues pertaining to international law and human rights, including academic articles and briefing papers on the rights of Indigenous Peoples, land rights, and conservation policy.

Joe Eisen is Executive Director of the Rainforest Foundation UK (RFUK), where he has worked for the past twelve years in defense of community rights in tropical forests. Joe and his team have played a leading role in exposing the scale of human rights abuses linked to fortress conservation and in pushing for national and international reforms that recognize the role of forest communities in protecting biodiversity. An anthropologist by training, Joe worked with Indigenous organizations and environmental NGOs in India, Guyana, and Gabon before joining RFUK.

Julien Basimika Enamiruwa’s home village, Bukanga, is less than five kilometers from the border of Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Almost all the inhabitants of the village are Indigenous Peoples from the Bakanga tribe. His father used to tell him about all the camps they lived in before they were evicted from the park, often lamenting the lack of access to a hill called Kabasi, which is one of the Bakanga’s sacred sites. In 2007, fleeing the attacks, killings, and looting of the Interahamwe (an African paramilitary group that was involved in the Rwandan genocide), Enamiruwa left the village for Bukavu, with his family, where he enrolled at university and obtained a master’s degree in social sciences. He soon met Indigenous rights advocates and integrated easily. It was in this context that he created Actions pour le Regroupement et l’Autopromotion des Pygmées (ARAP). After that he helped create the Réseau des Associations Autochtones Pygmées (RAPY) at a local level, and the Dynamique des Groupes des Peuples Autochtones (DGPA) at a national level. These days, his work involves teaching the Indigenous Peoples who live in and around the national park about their land rights and finding ways to bring their history to the international community.

Robert Fletcher is based at the Sociology of Development and Change group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. A former ecotourism guide, he is an environmental anthropologist with research interests in conservation, development, tourism, globalization, climate change, human-wildlife interaction, social and resistance movements, and non-state forms of governance. He uses a political ecology approach to explore how culturally specific understandings of human-nonhuman relations and political economic structures intersect to inform patterns of natural resource use and conflict. His publications include the books The Conservation Revolution: Radical Ideas for Saving Nature beyond the Anthropocene, coauthored with Bram Büscher, and Romancing the Wild: Cultural Dimensions of Ecotourism.

Dina Gilio-Whitaker (Colville Confederated Tribes) is a lecturer of American Indian Studies at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), and an independent educator in American Indian environmental policy and other issues. At CSUSM she teaches courses on environmentalism and American Indians, traditional ecological knowledge, religion and philosophy, Native women’s activism, American Indians and sports, and decolonization. She also works within the field of critical sports studies, examining the intersections of indigeneity and the sport of surfing. As a public intellectual, Dina brings her scholarship into focus as an award-winning journalist as well, with her work appearing at Indian Country Today, the Los Angeles Times, High Country News,, Slate,, Bioneers, Truthout, the Pacifica Network, Grist, and many more. Dina is the author of two books; the most recent is the award-winning As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock. She is currently under contract with Beacon Press for a new book under the working title Illegitimate Nation: Privilege, Race, and Accountability in the US Settler State.   

Juan Pablo Gutierrez is a human rights defender, activist, photographer, and international delegate of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and the Yukpa Indigenous people. Since 2012, he has dedicated his work to the protection of Indigenous Peoples. He is also known for championing freedom of thought and new critical and decolonial epistemological approaches from the Global South. Juan Pablo has faced multiple threats from Colombian paramilitary groups for denouncing to national and international authorities the critical situation of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia. He escaped an attack in 2014 and now continues his fight for human rights from abroad.

Frédéric Hache worked for twelve years in investment banking, selling, and structuring currency derivatives. After leaving banking in 2011, he then worked for six years as head of policy analysis at NGO Finance Watch, analyzing EU legislation linked to systemic risks and financial stability. He now heads the Belgian think tank Green Finance Observatory and lectures in sustainable finance at Science Po Paris. He also works as a freelance expert on sustainable finance and environmental markets while he undertakes a PhD in political economy.

Sutej Hugu is a tribal activism mobilizer and sustainable self-determination organizer of Indigenous Taiwan. He works for the ICCA Consortium as the Regional Coordinator for East Asia and the de facto Facilitator of the Cross-Regional Networks of ICCAs (territories of life) in Austronesia Indian and Pacific Ocean. Hugu cofounded, and was elected as first Chairperson, of the Cultural Taiwan Consortium, a national NGO that works towards an integrated national identity by seeking connectedness to the land and nature. He is CEO of the Tao Foundation, championing a campaign to remove a nuclear waste repository. He assisted in launching the Taiwan Indigenous Conserved Territories Union (TICTU), which federates 748 tribal communities whose Indigenous territories almost entirely overlap with state protected areas and national forests. He cofounded, and is the Chief Advisor for, the Indigenous Taiwan Self-Determination Alliance, which promotes Indigenous decolonization and sustainable self-determination for a new nation-building movement in Taiwan.

Ashish Kothari is a founding member of Kalpavriksh and is active in many grassroots movements. He has taught at the Indian Institute of Public Administration and coordinated the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for India. He has also been a part of the boards of Greenpeace International, its Indian office, and the ICCA Consortium. Today he helps coordinate Vikalp Sangam (, Global Tapestry of Alternatives (, and Radical Ecological Democracy ( He is coauthor and coeditor of several books including Churning the Earth, Alternative Futures, and Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.

Tokala Leeladhar (Leela) is a Deva Chenchu living in the Nallamala Forest in what is now Amrabad Tiger Reserve, in Telangana state, India. He studied botany and zoology, beginning his career working as a tiger tracker and moving on to become a nature guide and wildlife conservationist. Along with safeguarding the forest, he works for the rights and well-being of his tribe. He has said, “Only Chenchus can protect the forest because they know everything about the forest. They feel the forest is their home. Chenchus think the tiger is our big brother. Chenchus all worship tigers and feel that the tiger is god. Where there is forest, there we are.”

Delcasse Lukumbu is an activist from Rutshuru Territory in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Married with three children, he graduated with a degree in rural administration. In order to fight the injustices of Congolese society, Delcasse has been involved with the LUCHA (Lutte pour le Changement) movement since 2017, which advocates for social justice and human rights. This fight doesn’t come without risks though, and Delcasse has been arrested several times. Most notably, he was imprisoned for six months following a peaceful protest demanding that the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) stop the forced and militarized demarcation of Virunga National Park and instead support participatory processes.

Bhanumathi Kalluri (she/her) is Director at Dhaatri Trust (, an NGO based in India that works on the intersections of environment justice and women’s rights. Her work mainly involves facilitating collaborative work among women human rights defenders, particularly Indigenous women, to uphold their rights to their land, forests, and knowledge practices. Dhaatri works with the vision of strengthening the voices of women affected by development projects in India like forestry plantations, extractive schemes, national parks, climate-change mitigation programs, infrastructure-related displacement, and gendered violations. Dhaatri also coordinates a regional platform called WAMA (Women in Action on Mining in Asia, that involves women human rights defenders challenging corporate violations and pursing state accountability mechanisms for the mining sector.

Madhuresh Kumar is the National Coordinator of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and a research fellow in Resistance Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He writes regularly on people’s resistance while being involved in several national as well as international networks and processes around issues of democracy, development, and climate justice.

Dr. Madegowda C. is a Soliga social scientist and tribal rights activist from the BRT Tiger reserve in India. He has a PhD in social work and works for the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) as a Senior Research Associate and Coordinator. He is also Secretary of a Soliga community organization. He has twenty-four years of experience working with Indigenous people and biodiversity conservation. He was involved in securing the Soliga’s community forest rights—the Soliga were the first Indigenous people living in an Indian tiger reserve to have these rights recognized, setting an important precedent.

Birendra Mahato is the founder and chair of the Tharu Cultural Museum and Research Center (the first community museum in Nepal) and Community Conservation Nepal, which is working to empower local people for sustainable conservation. Since 2003 Mahato has defended the human rights of Indigenous Peoples suffering at the hands of fortress conservation in Nepal, pushing for their rights to be recognized. He has worked to stop the abuse of Tharu and other Indigenous Peoples in Chitwan National Park and to bring national and international attention to the abuses happening there.

Robert E. Moïse is a cultural anthropologist who has worked in the forests of the Congo Basin since the 1980s and has spent over five years on the ground doing research with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Since 2010, he has worked as a consultant for NGOs and governments on issues of conservation and development among local forest communities, including their relations with Protected Areas and Community Forest initiatives.

Llanquiray Painemal Morales, Mapuche (with a Chilean passport), is originally from the Coiwe-Ramón Painemal community in Gulumapu (today Chile). Active in the Mapuche movement since her youth, today she resides in Berlin and from there works in solidarity with Mapuche communities and Mapuche political prisoners.

Blaise Mudodosi Muhigwa is a lawyer and environmental jurist in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is also a national expert on forest rights and REDD+ safeguard issues. He is one of the cofounders and coordinators of the NGO Actions pour la Promotion et Protection des Peuples et Espèces Menacés (APEM). The organization works on voluntary independent monitoring and observation of REDD+ programs and projects. It also focuses on nature conservation, community forestry, mapping, and collaborative land-use planning. Legal assistance to victims of human rights violations related to natural resources, as well as advocacy for the socioeconomic rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples, is an important part of his fieldwork. Mudodosi Muhigwa has worked in collaboration with several national organizations and platforms (APED, AFRICAPACITY, RRN, and APEM) and is also active at the international level with the WWF, the Rainforest Foundation UK, Global Witness, and the Forest Peoples Programme.

Mordecai Ogada is an ecologist studying carnivores and a conservation scholar who has been involved in conservation policy and practice for the last eighteen years in Kenya and other parts of Africa. His main focus is human-wildlife conflict mitigation and carnivore conservation. Over the last three years, Mordecai has examined the policy problems and prejudices that underlie the challenges experienced in wildlife conservation, particularly in the Global South. These issues form the central theme of The Big Conservation Lie, a book focused on Kenya coauthored with John Mbaria. He is currently the Executive Director of Conservation Solutions Afrika, a natural-resource management consultancy based in Nanyuki. Dr. Ogada consults for Survival International on the impact of conservation practice on the lives and rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly in Africa. His website is

Taneyulime Pilisi is a Kalin’a woman from the Guianas, a writer, and a former interpreter of the Kalin’a and Sranan Tongo languages. She is the copresident of the Aw Kae collective for the preservation and development of Kalin’a culture and arts.

Deborah S. Rogers has committed her life to environmental justice, Indigenous rights, and socioeconomic equality. Over the years she has worked with Indigenous-led initiatives including the Black Hills Alliance, the Cowboy & Indian Alliance, Women of All Red Nations, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. She coordinated the Walking Forward Lakota health disparities project and taught at Oglala Lakota College. For the past ten years she has directed Initiative for Equality (IfE), a global network of activists working on issues related to social, economic, and political inequality. She currently serves as Coordinatrice Internationale for Réseau Initiative for Equality (RIFE), a regional network of eighteen Indigenous rights organizations in Burundi, Rwanda, and the DR Congo. In this capacity, she has written reports on genocidal attacks, has made presentations at the United Nations, and has helped with two significant lawsuits to defend Indigenous rights at Kahuzi-Biega National Park in eastern DR Congo.

Kipchumba Rotich is a member of the Sengwer Indigenous Peoples of Cherangani Hills, Kenya. For the last three years he has been working for the recognition of his community’s land rights. Currently, Kipchumba volunteers as an ICT Officer and Assistant to the Executive Director of their local organization. Kipchumba draws his motivation from the desire for justice for his people in securing their land tenure rights in Embobut Forest. He has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology from the University of Eldoret and is currently pursuing a law degree at Moi University. Kipchumba has represented his community in different forums both local and international. He is a strong advocate of Indigenous-led conservation models and strongly opposes the “fortress conservation” system.

Mekozi Rufin is a member of the Baka tribe in the Republic of Congo. For years he has been speaking out against human rights abuses and defending the Baka’s rights to their forest, especially in the proposed Messok Dja protected area (a WWF project) and in Odzala-Kokoua National Park (an African Parks project). He has been instrumental in bringing these abuses to international attention. He is also the founder of a local organization called Groupement des Autochtones de Sembe (GAS), supporting Baka families to clear fields and plant manioc. 

Archana Soreng belongs to the Khadia Tribe from India. She is a member of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. She is experienced in advocacy and research on the rights of Indigenous and local communities and climate action. She has been working to document, preserve, and promote the traditional knowledge and cultural practices of Indigenous communities. She has pursued a master’s in Regulatory Governance from Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

J. K. Thimma is a shaman and a leader within the Jenu Kuruba tribe, living in the forest that is now the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and National Park. For more than thirty years he has fought against efforts to evict his community in the name of conservation and has been a driving force in the Jenu Kuruba’s campaign to have their rights to live in their forest recognized. He is a vocal critic of colonial conservation and the creation of Protected Areas without consent. He is calling for the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to close and for the forest to be handed back to the Jenu Kuruba, stating, “We can take care of the tigers and the forest better.” His battle for the rights of his people has resulted in years of harassment and threats, including numerous false criminal cases being filed against him.

John Vidal is a journalist and has reported from over one hundred countries. He was environment editor of The Guardianfrom 1989 to 2016 and has written on conservation and the environment for most mainstream Western newspapers. The author of McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial, he is presently writing a book on how we are creating the conditions for diseases like Covid-19 to emerge and spread.

Esther Wah is an Indigenous Karen woman from Dawei, Tanintharyi Region, in southern Myanmar. She has been working with environmental civil society groups since 2014, campaigning to save Karen ancestral territories from the impacts of mining, environmental destruction, and agribusiness concessions. She also coordinates an alliance of Indigenous Karen community organizations called CAT (Conservation Alliance of Tanintharyi). Together, they campaign against top-down conservation projects that dispossess Karen people from their lands and forest and promote Indigenous land and forest management practices. She is an honorary member of the ICCA Consortium, and coordinates ICCA NEWS (Indigenous Community Conserved Areas North East West and South), a news network involving Indigenous organizations across Myanmar, working on advocacy and promoting Indigenous Community Conserved Areas.

Lottie Cunningham Wren is a lawyer for the Miskito Indigenous people. For more than twenty years she has been defending the land rights and natural resources of the Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples of Nicaragua. She is the founder of the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN). In 2020, she received recognition from the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.”

Norberto Altamirano Zárate is a Binniza (Zapotec) community advocate from the Indigenous community of Union Hidalgo, Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, México.


What People Are Saying

Decolonize Conservation shares stories of how colonial conservation has become an instrument of dispossession of Indigenous people. Colonization is based on ecological apartheid, the separation of humans from nature and an illusion of superiority of the colonizer over nature and nature-centered ecological cultures. Colonial conservation defines ‘nature‘ and the ‘wild‘ as the absence of humans, and violently removes Indigenous communities from their homes in the name of ‘conservation’. The reality is that 80 percent of the biodiversity of the planet is conserved on 20 percent of the land which remain in the care of Indigenous people. As the editors and contributors of this book urgently remind us, it is time to decolonize conservation, to recognize the rights of Indigenous people and their sophisticated sciences of conservation and sustainable use, and to prevent the ongoing wave of colonizations of nature and biodiversity through financialisation.” —Vandana Shiva, author of Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace and Terra Viva: My Life in a Biodiversity of Movements

“Decolonize Conservation reveals the hidden but rampant current of dispossession and displacement suffered by Indigenous communities across the world. Between the lines, we pick up the unspoken origins of colonial conservation as the consolidation of conquest and as a false mode of atonement by exploitative forces for rapacious colonial exploitation that now threatens the planet. We also see undercurrents of ecological racism. Decolonize Conservation is a great offering at a time of planetary distress and is a call for liberation as well as a demand to urgently abrogate the notion that humans can cordon off and own territories on this speck in the Milky Way.” —Nnimmo Bassey, author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa

“Mainstream conservation, including its most recent ‘30x30’ incarnation, is part of the problem, not the solution. The diverse voices collected in this hard-hitting, important volume show the way in moving beyond ineffective, violent, and colonial forms of ‘protecting’ nature, towards new forms of conservation centered on care for biodiversity and respect for Indigenous wisdoms.”—Bram Büscher, coauthor of The Conservation Revolution: Radical Ideas for Saving Nature Beyond the Anthropocene

"Decolonize Conservationis a groundbreaking book that foregrounds Indigenous voices, ideas, and practices in a searing critique of business-as-usual environmental conservation. Simultaneously it shows how the complex kinships, relations, and exchanges between peoples and their surroundings globally have historically created—and can create in the future—conditions for systems and species to flourish. Beautifully written, Decolonize Conservation is a must read for everyone who cares about our socioecological future." —Paige West, author of Dispossession and the Environment: Rhetoric and Inequality in Papua New Guinea and Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea

"If you've ever suspected that clever advertising has duped you into supporting dubious 'conservation' initiatives that ultimately lead to the eviction of Indigenous peoples—to the great detriment of the ecosystems they helped to sustain—then read this book! These essays by Indigenous activists and their allies provide a vitally important corrective to the false environmental 'solutions' that are being peddled by many Big Green organizations."—Amitav Gosh, author of The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable and The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

“Decolonize Conservation functions as a spur to thought, a call to action, and a challenge to conservation strategies that are not only colonial in origin, but have failed to shed their neo-coloniality. The contributors—who represent Indigenous communities and allies from Asia, Africa, Europe, and North and South America—document how the urgency of combatting climate change is empowering some of the most pernicious, exclusionary features of large, global conservation organizations. If the original sin of mainline conservation was its essential coloniality, its current practice, including in pursuit of ‘30x30’ goals, utilizes the states of exception associated with structural and physical violence that have constructed fortress conservation models and the securitization and financialization of conservation endeavours. These models foreclose possibilities of coexistence, and short-circuit the deployment of the kinds of indigenous knowledge and practice articulated in this collection of essays, which is what makes these voices and the struggles they represent and document so urgent and necessary. This volume centers Indigeneity as a compelling thread to knot together stories of flawed conservation work and calls for the infusion of conservation practice with justice and alternative forms of knowledge and claims to belonging.” —Jeff Schauer, author of Wildlife between Empire and Nation in Twentieth-Century Africa


Praise for Ashley Dawson's previous work:

“Ashley Dawson’s slim and forceful book … makes a case for being the most accessible and politically engaged examination of the current mass extinction … a welcome contribution to the growing literature on this slow-motion calamity.”—Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Yale University, in the Los Angeles Review of Books

“Dawson's searing report on species loss will sober up anyone who has drunk the Kool-Aid of green capitalism. For a bonus, readers will learn a lot from his far-sighted, prehistoric survey of extinction.”—Andrew Ross, author of Creditocracy and the Case for Debt Refusal

“Dawson has summed up the threat to our fellow species on Earth with clarity, urgency and the finest reasoning available within the environmental justice literature. He explains how capital's appropriation of nature cannot be 'offset,' nor solutions found in financialization. Fusing social and ecological challenges to power is the only way forward, and here is a long-awaited, elegant and comprehensive expression of why the time is right to make these links.”—Patrick Bond, Professor of Political Economy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and author of Politics of Climate Justice: Paralysis Above, Movement Below

“A succinct and moving account of the co-evolution of capitalism, imperialism, and climate change. Dawson demonstrates not only how capitalism created climate change but also why the former must be challenged in order to halt the latter. Offering not only critique but also solutions, this rousing book is a great tool for anti-capitalists, climate change activists, and those still making sense of the intrinsic connections between the two.”—Jasbir Puar, Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University, author of Terrorist Assemblages

“Historically grounded, densely researched, fluidly written, Ashley Dawson’s book on extinction is a powerful and painful exploration of human civilization's environmental irrationalities. Yet Dawson does not see annihilation as inevitable and he even points towards an alternate path.”—Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence

“An elegant, controversial thesis” —The Guardian

“For anyone wanting to understand what comes after oil and how we might get there.”—Imre Szeman, author of On Petrocultures 

“A gift to activists, providing a clear and accessible history of energy as well as a vision towards the publicly owned, democratically controlled, 100% renewable world we need.”—Aaron Eisenberg, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

“A brilliant guide to building collective, equitable, and radical energy democracies in the here and now.”—Lavinia Steinfort, Transnational Institute

“Books on climate change are a dime a dozen now, but few, if any, truly reckon with the potential scale of the disasters that await. Dawson reveals the inadequacies of current plans to deal with the problems that cities around the world will face. Forget such buzzwords as ‘green cities,’ ‘resilience,’ and ‘sustainable development’—the age of ‘disaster communism’ is here.”—Publishers Weekly(“Best Books 2017”—Top 10)

Extreme Citiesis a ground-breaking investigation of the vulnerability of our cities in an age of climate chaos. We feel safe and protected in the middle of our great urban areas, but as Sandy and Katrina made clear, and as this fine book reveals anew, the massive shifts on our earth increasingly lay bare the social inequalities that fracture our civilization.”—Bill McKibben, founder of and author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“The way we design and live in cities will determine humanity’s ability to avoid an anthropogenic mass extinction event in the coming century. Dawson makes this vividly clear in Extreme Cities, laying out in detail the nature of the problem and some possible positive actions we can take. Crucial to his argument is the fact that technological solutions will not be enough, so that we need to drastically reform the capitalist economic system to properly price and value the biosphere and human lives. His point that social justice is now a necessary survival strategy makes this not just a meticulous history and analysis of our situation, but also an exciting call to action.”—Kim Stanley Robinson, author of The Red Mars Trilogy and New York 2140

“Cities both in the North and the South are already suffering the effects of climate change. Government and business fitfully recognize and respond, but in ways that reinforce existing injustices and as often as not make things worse. Dawson shows how social movements have combined action on disaster relief with forms of equitable common life to produce models for radical adaptation from which we can all learn. This is a brilloant summation of what we know and what we can do build a new kind of city in the ruins of the old.”—McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene

“A powerful argument in a dire situation: that we revise our cities to the new game changer, or climate change will revise urban existences as we know it.”—Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, director-general of Bengal Institute of Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements

“A sophisticated and provocative exploration of the unfolding impact of climate change on urban environments.”—Christoph Lindner, Professor of Urban Theory and Visual Culture, University of Oregon

“A revelatory confrontation between two forms of 'surplus liquidity': the rent-seeking excess of circulating global capital and the more literal liquidity of the rising tides of climate change. The setting is the city and this meticulously researched and argued book probes the nexus of myopia, greed, environmental disaster—and hope—that has placed the urban habitat of billions of us in extremis.”—Michael Sorkin, author of All Over the Map: Writing on Buildings and Cities

“A sobering account of how planetary urbanization has put us on a collision course with the natural world.”—Jonathan Hahn, Sierra Magazine

“A must-read for everyone who wants to understand the politics of climate change in an increasingly urban planet, and to explore the possibilities for radical change beyond all technological fixes and governmental adjustments that only reproduce the system as it is.”—Marco Armiero, director of the Environmental Humanities Laboratory, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

“A superb essay of political ecology, Extreme Citiesdemonstrates that there is nothing more depending on nature than the city, offering both a diagnosis and a possible therapy for one of the greatest challenges of our time.”—Serenella Iovino, editor of Material Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities: Voices from the Anthropocene

“Extreme Cities takes the critical long view to challenge city decision-makers to deal seriously with the clash of business-as-usual development, threats from climate change, and persistent social inequality to develop real transformations to drive cities toward sustainability and resilience.”—Timon McPhearson, Director, Urban Systems Lab at The New School, New York City

“With the majority of humanity located in cities, it behooves us to consider urban ecologies as recent and future sites of non-natural disasters as well as inspiring places of collective resilience and struggles for justice. Dawson’s book is a guiding light.”—T.J. Demos, Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz, Director of its Center for Creative Ecologies

“The definitive study of an urban—and planetary—system pushed to the breaking point. Extreme Citiespaints a terrifying, but also hopeful, picture, weaving together accounts of iron-fisted states, greedy real estate developers, and the communities that challenge their rule.”—Jason W. Moore, author of Capitalism in the Web of Life

“A profoundly sobering picture of climate change’s uneven urban toll, both across global expanses and within particular neighborhoods, while also spotlighting instances of radical, on-the-ground resistance to such trends.”—Emily Scott, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zuric and co-editor of Critical Landscapes: Art, Space, Politics

“Dawson makes a convincing case that, unless urban dwellers and civic leaders engage in a fundamental reconceptualization of the city and whom it serves, the future of urban life is dim.”—Publishers Weekly(starred review)

“A substantive contribution to the growing dialogue about our response—or lack thereof—to climate change.”—Kirkus

“Dawson is well attuned to the ways that upheavals and disasters disproportionately affect the socioeconomically disadvantaged. As Donald Trump continues to roll back protection measures and disavow the US’s role in global cooperation to mitigate the effects of climate change, [Extreme Cities] is a clear-eyed reminder of who, and what, will be left most vulnerable as a result.”—Fast Company

“Extreme Citiesis an angry book—as it should be … Ashley Dawson outlines the existential dilemma facing coastal cities, and the refusal of various powerbrokers to acknowledge that reality, in bold and frequently horrifying terms.”—Chris Barsanti, Rain Taxi

“Invoking terms such as ‘climate apartheid,’ he greatly expands what people traditionally think of as relevant climate policy language. Recognizing that climate change mitigation and adaptation are interwoven with—and exacerbated by—social inequities and other problems plaguing modern cities is sobering, but this realization provides hope that humanity can move toward greater resilience to environmental problems by addressing non-climatic factors that will improve cities in the presence or absence of climate change.”—Choice

"Extreme Citiestakes on the needed work of slowing down to chronicle and consider this meantime, without shying away from its messiness … More than simply lay out the existence of disparities, it illuminates the relationship between them."—Liz Koslov, Public Books

“[Ashley Dawson] cuts through the green capitalist hype and shows instead that life under climate change has grown increasingly precarious for working-class people living in major urban centers in the twenty-first century … A sweeping narrative that ties together disparate calamities.”—Zachary Alexis, International Socialist Review

Tags: anti-imperialism ....... Ashley Dawson ....... Common Notions ....... ecology ....... Fiore Longo ....... indigenous ....... racism ....... Survival International .......