introduction Michael R. Dove, Percy E. Sajise, and Amity A. Doolittle
The field of conservation and development has become complicated,
and strengthened, by a number of recent paradigm shifts in social as
well as natural science. In recent years the theory, methods, goals,
and even definitions of basic concepts in conservation and develop-
ment have all been questioned. The application of discrete local
measures to restore and maintain ecosystem stability, using unprob-
lematized theories derived from North American and West Euro-
pean academia, now not only appears inadequate for solving envi-
ronmental problems in less-developed countries but actually seems
to contribute to these problems in some cases. There is now wide-
spread recognition of the importance of extralocal determinants, the
reality of inherent and adaptive disturbance in ecosystems, and the
limitations and historically contingent nature of North American
and West European science. The intellectual stance of most scholar-
ship if not practice in conservation and development today could
be characterized as postlocal, postequilibrium, poststructural, and
We will discuss these four points in the first section of our intro-
duction to this volume, focusing on the general theoretical context of
our work. In the second section, we discuss a number of specific
themes that are taken up in the chapters to follow and cross-cut the
volume. The third and final section consists of a chapter-by-chapter
discussion of the major points of each contributor to the volume.
One of the most important ways in which the science of conservation
and development has developed in the past generation has involved
problematizing the traditional bounding of the local ecological and
human community as the unit of study. The widening of the unit of
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