Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

Unelker Maoga's research

Unelker studied power, exclusion and racial dynamics in Kenya's wildlife conservation sector

Power Constructs, Exclusion and Racial Dynamics in Kenya's Wildlife Conservation Landscape

In the early 20th Century, colonial methods of conservation disenfranchised indigenous communities that lived in harmony with wildlife through the establishment of protected areas across the East African Protectorate. The resultant power structures now dictate modern wildlife conservation, and practice exclusionary tactics that continue to affect the just participation of indigenous peoples and native professionals working in Kenya’s wildlife conservation landscape. Against this historical backdrop, this dissertation begins by analysing the factors that shaped wildlife conservation, and further argues that the resultant power structures exact epistemic violence and racial bias, which obstruct the involvement of natives from becoming influential stakeholders in wildlife conservation. In doing so, this dissertation is a rallying call for the need to decolonize conservation in Africa, an appeal to restructure wildlife management toward the development of a sustainable conservation model which foregrounds the rights of indigenous peoples and the just contribution of local scientists – a conservation model that creates room at the table for African leadership in wildlife management.

Writing about race, power, and privilege following the recent #BlackLivesMatter movement was emotionally challenging, but also deeply fulfilling. This dissertation has been my best academic decision yet and the journey would not have been possible without my respondents and supervisor who were the soil on which I grew as a researcher.

Unelker Maoga

Environment & Development

  • Kenya
  • Postgraduate Scholar

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