Gentrifying the African Landscape: The Performance and Powers of for-Profit Conservation on Southern Kenya’s Conservancy Frontier
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionAnnals of the American Association of Geographers. 2020, 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2020.1723398
Across eastern and southern Africa, conservation landscapes increasingly extend far beyond the boundaries of government-owned protected areas. Several countries have now granted full legal recognition to various types of private or otherwise nonstate conservation arrangements, thereby often seeking to create novel opportunities for ostensibly “green” capital investments in various for-profit conservation enterprises. Following the adoption of the 2013 Wildlife Conservation and Management Act in Kenya, for instance, nonstate conservancies now encompass 6.36 million hectares—or 11 percent of the country’s land area—with at least a further 3 million hectares proposed or in the process of territorialization. Examining the consequences of this precipitous rise of conservancies in southern Kenya’s Maasai Mara region, we suggest that—in addition to significant potential for considerable profit margins to be realized by individual firms—these investments retain a number of other unique powers or capacities to transform prevailing varieties of environmental governance. In this case, these capacities manifest in two interrelated forms: first, in the dissemination of environmental crisis narratives that stigmatize pastoralist communities and thus drive down land rents or values and, second, in the recapitalization of conservation territories and the reconfiguration of prevailing land uses in ways that enable novel forms of rural gentrification via the capture of heightened or differential ground rents.