The Conservation Catch-22: Indigenous Peoples and Cultural Change

  • Flora Lu


Catch-22, the title of Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel, has come to signify a paradoxical situation from which any apparent means of resolution leads inevitably back to the starting point - a “no win” situation. Often people concerned with biodiversity conservation ascribe conservationist ethics to societies with limited technology, subsistence levels of production, and low population densities relative to resources. Conversely, as these societies experience demographic growth, adopt modern technologies, and become increasingly involved in market economy, they come to be regarded as a threat to the ecological sustainability of their environments. This puts these populations in somewhat of a Catch-22. As we know from common property theory, when pressure on a resource is low due to few users, limited procurement technologies, and subsistence production, there is little incentive for the development of coordinated resource use behaviors that characterize conservation. In other words, the conditions under which people are seen as ecologically friendly from this viewpoint are precisely the conditions where we would not expect conservation to develop.


Indigenous People Peach Palm Demographic Growth Bactris Gasipaes Common Property Regime 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

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