Selling green militarization: The discursive (re)production of militarized conservation in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
AbstractIn recent years, the militarization of nature conservation has intensified, especially in protected areas located in conflict zones or plagued by ‘poaching crises’. Such ‘green militarization’ is enabled by a range of discursive techniques that allow it to be seen as a ‘normal’ and ‘legitimate’ response. This article analyzes these techniques in relation to the Virunga National Park, located in the war-ridden east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where militarized approaches to conservation have a long lineage. It demonstrates that many of the discursive techniques that are currently at play show strong continuities with the past. These include moral boundary-drawing grounded in colonial tropes that accomplish the (racial) Othering of poachers and rebels, and the long-established practice of invoking states of emergency as part of wider mechanisms of securitization. However, the rise of neoliberal conservation, with its emphasis on marketing and marketization, has induced transformations in the employed discursive techniques. Notably, it has intensified the spectacularization of militarized conservation and anchored it in everyday consumer practices, by actively inviting individual supporters to directly fund militarized interventions, thus generating ‘militarization by consumption’. This shows that ‘green militarization’ is not only driven by the growing commodification of nature conservation, but is increasingly subject to commodification itself.
Marijnen, E. and Verweijen, J. (2016) Selling green militarization: The discursive (re)production of militarized conservation in the Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Geoforum, 75. pp. 274-285. ISSN 0016-7185