Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Michael L. Cepek, Foucault in the forest: Questioning environmentality in Amazonia, American Ethnologist, Volume 38, Issue 3, August 2011, pp 501–515.

Article available online in pdf format

In this article, I analyze the encounter between the Field Museum of Natural History and Amazonian Ecuador’s Cofán people to question the concept of “environmentality”: the idea that environmentalist programs and movements operate as forms of governmentality in Michel Foucault’s sense. I argue that, although the Field Museum’s community conservation projects constitute a regulatory rationale and technique, they do not transform Cofán subjectivity according to plan. By exploring Cofán people’s critical consciousness of environmentalist interventions, I aim to cast doubt on the governmentality paradigm’s utility for analyzing the complexities of cultural difference, intercultural encounter, and directed change.

Keywords: governmentality;environmentality;indigenous conservation;environmental management;Amazonia

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