The Political Ecology of Paradise: Exploring the narrative and its perceptions in Seychelles
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Taylor, Julia K
Environmental narratives, particularly those of crisis, have been proven to be particularly persistent and pervasive in influencing policy and supporting mainstream discourses of environment and development. These narratives simplify complex situations around relationships between humans and nature and in so doing can mask issues of social and political conflict. The ‘lost island paradise’ narrative is one such narrative and is historically constructed yet extremely persistent. Using a poststructuralist political ecology approach, this research aims to deconstruct this narrative by exploring local perceptions of an environmental rehabilitation project in Seychelles as well as exploring flows of knowledge and money in international institutions such as GEF in order to understand how and why such narratives manifest and persist. The novelty of this dissertation lies in its piecing together of different literatures to construct a conceptual framework and the use of two methodologies for data collection; participant observation and semi-structured interviews. This research makes use of literature around development and environmental narratives; the role of science in the production of knowledge and policy processes; and environmentality assemblages. Framed by this literature, the Seychelles case study is analysed and main findings include the effect of the ‘lost island paradise’ on local human and nature relationships through literature, advertising, policy and projects; it is found that a local disconnect exists. Furthermore, findings show that Western science dominates policy and project implementation and is linked to neoliberal conservation through flows of knowledge and money. The ‘lost island paradise’ narrative persists within the context of neoliberal conservation as a form of environmentality.