Jessica Dempsey (Assistant Professor, UBC Geography) has just published her first book, in the Antipode book series with Wiley-Blackwell. Enterprising Nature tracks the rise of a powerful idea in global biodiversity conservation. Many ecologists, bureaucrats, and activists now believe that the only way to slow the decimation of nonhuman life on earth is to translate conservation into an economically rational—even profitable—set of policies and practices. “In order to make live,” goes the ascending mantra, “one must make economic.” Enterprising Nature analyses this mantra’s origins and the international alliances that enable it to spread. Crucially, the book focuses not only the smooth ascent of enterprising nature, but rather on the enormous challenges the project faces: technical, scientific, economic, and political. Enterprising nature seems like an “easy fix” to ecological degradation, tailor-made for our austerity bound, market-governance times, and yet it remains marginal.
Animation: Enterprising Nature
The video explores political struggles over the idea of making nature “economic” and over emerging rankings of nature, of different species and ecosystems. For more information on the video, visit the Bioeconomies Media Project website.
‘Jessica Dempsey’s Enterprising Nature is necessary reading for understating the critical geographies of how market forces, biodiversity, environmentalism, and all kinds of so-called experts try, and often fail, to dictate the terms of conservation politics the world over. The book is fresh, robust, and offers healthy doses of both scepticism and deep insights into the battles that need to be fought.’
Nik Heynen, Professor of Geography, University of Georgia, USA
‘Dempsey’s Enterprising Nature is a must-read for all conservationists. From the vantage of political ecology, Dempsey provides a sympathetic but ringing critique of the ecosystem services paradigm. Nonetheless, her fresh analysis ultimately points towards a new and hopeful pathway – by forging unexpected collaborations among scientists, social movement activists, and scholars of power dynamics, she imagines reclaiming an “abundant biodiversity”, as well as the ecosystem services it supplies.’
Claire Kremen, Professor in Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, USA
‘Through arguments with which liberal environmentalists will struggle to find fault, Dempsey carefully excavates the foundations of the global biodiversity industry, and finds them rotten. This is a compassionate and intelligent book, one that helps us ask far deeper questions about humans relations with the world than the mainstream environmental movement dare broach.’
Raj Patel, Research Professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, USA