The Sierra de Huautla region is one of 41 protected areas in Mexico designated as a biosphere reserve. SBHR is inhabited by 31 communities, which work together to safeguard the natural environment of that area with two government-affiliated agencies, and other local actors. Drawing upon frameworks from the field of Science and Technology Studies, specifically from Social World Arenas and Actor Network Theory, I analyze how conservation initiatives shape and transform theoretical, social, and physical landscapes. Given that my research focuses on the actual practices people are engaged in while involved in conservation efforts, my research is primarily informed by ground-level qualitative work, and I make use of Situational Analysis as my primary method of data collection and interpretation. I adopt SA to identify the many and varied actors (both human and non-human) that contribute to the construction of the Sierra de Huautla biosphere as a ‘natural environment’. My research also looks at how various actors -scientists, local community inhabitants- perform activities and roles within the complex contexts of conservation projects. This work offers insights about the genesis of conservation initiatives, the varied modes of participation they support and the challenging institutional constraints, which often make it difficult to fulfil conservation goals. These insights provide valuable ideas, precedents, and guidelines for sites where similar collaborative conservation initiatives are anticipated or being established.
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Thesis advisor: de Castell, Suzanne
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