Lynch, M. and Turner, S. (2021). Rocking the boat: intersectional resistance to marine conservation policies in Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia. Gender, Place & Culture. DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2021.1971630.
Abstract: Much scholarship has stressed the need for conservation initiatives to consider local livelihood realities in order to effectively manage marine ecosystems; however, the gendered implications of marine conservation often remain overlooked. This paper takes a feminist political ecology approach to examine intersectional resistance to conservation policies in one of Indonesia’s largest and most populous marine protected areas (MPAs), Wakatobi National Park. We show that current Park policies and management fail to account for the livelihoods and culture of local ethnic minority fishers. In response, and along lines of gender, ethnicity, and class, ethnic minority fishers resist conservation measures in novel ways. Justified by their moral economy, these include continuing to access natural resources surreptitiously, allying with each other, and critiquing authorities. While many fisherwomen face additional barriers due to local cultural gender norms, they resist by pursuing livelihood activities against their husband’s wishes. A key mechanism for this gendered resistance is increased mobility for women, achieved through their clever use of new infrastructure. Concurrently, Park authorities work to regain control through ‘creative enforcement’ by accepting bribes, intimidating locals, and wasting fishers’ time – techniques that further expose class, ethnic, and gendered frictions. Overall, we find that MPA residents use resources differently across intersectional lines and reveal the extent to which everyday resistance can undermine conservation efforts if regulations ignore local needs. We thus stress the need for an intersectional and multi-scalar approach that is contextualized within local communities and wider infrastructures to improve marine conservation research and policy.
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