The Nature of Spectacle
176 pages, 6 x 9
4 maps
Release Date:12 Sep 2017

The Nature of Spectacle

On Images, Money, and Conserving Capitalism

The University of Arizona Press
Today crisis appears to be the normal order of things. We seem to be turning in widening gyres of economic failure, species extinction, resource scarcity, war, and climate change. These crises are interconnected ecologically, economically, and politically. Just as importantly, they are connected—and disconnected—in our imaginations. Public imaginations are possibly the most important stage on which crises are played out, for these views determine how the problems are perceived and what solutions are offered.

In The Nature of Spectacle, Jim Igoe embarks on multifaceted explorations of how we imagine nature and how nature shapes our imaginations. The book traces spectacular productions of imagined nature across time and space—from African nature tourism to transnational policy events to green consumer appeals in which the push of a virtual button appears to initiate a chain of events resulting in the protection of polar bears in the Arctic or jaguars in the Amazon rainforest. These explorations illuminate the often surprising intersections of consumerism, entertainment, and environmental policy. They show how these intersections figure in a strengthening and problematic policy consensus in which economic growth and ecosystem health are cast as mutually necessitating conditions. They also take seriously the potential of these intersections and how they may facilitate other alignments and imaginings that may become the basis of alternatives to our current socioecological predicaments.
The Nature of Spectacle speaks of the economic interests behind present-day conservation programs in a constructive as well as critical manner. This book further widens my perspective on the sociological and economical background of conservation programs.’—Economic Botany

‘A historically-grounded and novel argument about conservation and capitalism.’—Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography

‘Igoe’s latest book, The Nature of Spectacle, provides an engaging discussion of how representations of nature—images, videos and spaces that depict wild landscapes and living organisms—mediate relationships between humans and the environment.’—Canadian Journal of Development Studies
‘[The Nature of Spectacle] would be an excellent book for teaching, as it presents a set of very complex arguments in a rather friendly manner and makes you question your own place, as a consumer of both images and commodities, within capital’s approach to the production of nature.’—Conservation and Society
The Nature of Spectacle is theoretically insightful and presents an inventive framework for understanding present entanglements, but also for imagining different futures. It is a significant contribution and essential reading for scholars studying neoliberal conservation, political ecology, and the anthropology of nature.’—African Studies Review

‘Igoe offers an original and provocative take on topics that couldn’t be more relevant to ongoing debates in anthropology, geography, environmental studies, and conservation studies.’—Andrew Walsh, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario
Jim Igoe is an associate professor in the Anthropology Department at the University of Virginia. His work, broadly construed, concerns the history of nature in expanding world systems. Specifically, he has addressed conflicts between national parks and indigenous communities in East Africa and North America, the emergence of neoliberal conservation at the turn of the millennium, and the role of mass-produced images in mediating people’s perceptions of, and relationships to, the environment. Igoe is the co-author of Nature Unbound: Capitalism and the Future of Protected Areas and Conservation and Globalization: A Study of National Parks and Indigenous Communities from East Africa to South Dakota.

Introduction: The Spectacle of Nature and Circuits of Capitalism
1 Making, Managing, and Marketing East African Nature
2 A Landscape That Functions Ecologically and Economically?
3 Seeing the World to Save the World
4 Wise Exchange, Convention Space, and Transnational Tournaments of Value
5 Consume, Connect, Conserve
6 Some Last(ing) Stories and Reflections

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