Power asymmetries and institutions: landscape conservation in central India
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This article argues for revisiting the institutional architecture of wildlife conservation in light of two recent trends: Increased popularity of landscape-level approaches and the recognition that conservation interventions must address longstanding questions of forest and land rights of local residents. The inquiry draws upon primary research conducted in Kanha National Park and Tiger Reserve, which is world renowned for its rich flora and fauna, but is also the site of a longstanding struggle over land rights of Adivasis, India’s indigenous people. The institutional landscape of contemporary wildlife conservation regimes, this article shows, is a product of the interlocking of socioeconomic inequalities and the dominant models of wildlife conservation. The analysis presented here follows a political economy of institutions approach, which underlines how the social, economic, and political contexts shape institutional outcomes. Findings from this analysis will inform the proposals for transformational institutional interventions aimed to meet the triple bottom line of social justice, broad-based economic development, and ecological stewardship.