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Species Aid: Organizational Sensemaking in a Preservation Project in Albania
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In 1994 a Hungarian fisheries biologist specialised on sturgeons revealed that there was at least one population of sturgeons belonging to the threatened sturgeon species Ac. Naccari still present in the Albanian aquatic fauna. The stage was now set for an international conservation initiative. This discovery marked the beginning of the conservation project that is analysed in this thesis. The ideas of biodiversity, the conservation initiative, and the activities of the project on the ground in Albania are analysed through ethnography of the everyday activities of the project members’.

The aim of the ethnography presented is to contextualise differing perceptions of biodiversity, discuss perceived pros and cons of species conservation among the project crew, the roles they saw for science and scientific expertise in species conservation, and the tensions around ‘East’ and ‘West’ that in many ways permeated the project. The thesis also addresses more general questions concerning the role of project managers, leadership, organisational learning and projects as organisations.

In the concluding chapter, it is argued that through the internal storytelling within the core project crew, a largely self-referential system of meaning was constructed that relied on several distinctions such as those between ‘east’ and ‘west’, between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’, between ‘self’ and ‘other’ (understood in a broad sense), between ‘before’ and ‘after, between 'politics' and 'biodiversity', and between 'corruption' and 'keeping the hands clean'. The world view of the project depended on binary oppositional distinctions such as those between ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘non-knowledgeable’, between ‘environment’ and 'not environment’, between ‘politics’ and ‘not politics’, and between ‘doing’ and ‘not doing’ conservation.

One crucial conclusion of the thesis is that bad examples, even failures, promote learning, perhaps to an even higher, degree than success stories, when it comes to organisational learning. The informational and communicational dimension has to be taken seriously in conservation undertakings, because if conservation projects do not consider how ‘nature’ and ‘environment’ are conceptualised in different contexts, it is hard to anchor conservation undertakings in local contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University , 2004. , 230 p.
Stockholm studies in social anthropology, ISSN 0347-0830 ; 55
Keyword [en]
Conservation, social anthropology, ecological anthropology, global environmental issues, Albania, sensemaking, organisational theory.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83ISBN: 91-7265-841-XOAI: diva2:200018
Public defence
2004-04-16, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-03-25 Created: 2004-03-25 Last updated: 2016-10-19Bibliographically approved

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