cover image NatureTM Inc.: Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age

NatureTM Inc.: Environmental Conservation in the Neoliberal Age

Edited by Bram Büscher, Wolfram Dressler, and Robert Fletcher. Univ. of Arizona, $60 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8165-3095-3

The Critical Green Engagements series kicks off with a set of academic papers from a 2001 conference designed to “critically interrogate ‘the market panacea in environmental policy and conservation.’ ” These rather bleak voices articulate opposition, both in terms of economic impact and effectiveness, to community-based environmental conservation approaches that aim futilely to save the environment by selling it as a premium product, citing these efforts as a neoliberal commodification of nature. Part 1 focuses on “societal entanglements” on the ground, like the social construction of natural capital or ecotourism’s failure to preserve spaces without transforming them into caricatures unhelpful to the livelihoods of local communities. Part 2 explores global politics and market impacts of neoliberal conservation: the use of celebrity, the creation of abstract commodities like carbon offsets, and the transformation of “capital” as a concept. Part 3 explores conservation via “fictitious capital”—“capital that does not directly have ‘any material basis in commoditites or productive activity’”—in which dramatic imagery is used to sell economic activity that is increasingly isolated from actual engagement. It’s a hefty academic exchange, but a good introduction to the paradoxical notion of capitalism being used to solve a problem that capitalism created. B&w photos, illus., tables. (June)