Thesis ID: CBB226156952

The Origination and Implementation of the National Wetlands Policy of Uganda: Environment, Knowledge, and Power from the Late Nineteenth Century to Present (2022)


Fair, Laura (Advisor)
Doyle-Raso, John (Author)

Fair, Laura
Michigan State University
Publication date: 2022
Language: English

Publication Date: 2022
Physical Details: 375

In the 1980s, following widespread environmental and intellectual changes associated with “swamp reclamation” that in Uganda had started in the early twentieth century, proponents of the emerging science of “wetland conservation” sought to influence the practices and thinking of people across the country. To do so, they created a national wetlands policy based on decentralized “community-based” projects. Yet, farmers’ and investors’ engagements with reclamation have continued. Meanwhile, the Ugandan wetlands policy became internationally influential for its groundbreaking approach to interdisciplinary questions about governance, emphasizing economic analyses based on concepts such as “ecosystem services” and “Environmental Economic Valuation.” Ugandan wetland conservationists have had more influence abroad than domestically, as in Uganda neoliberalization and recentralization have limited the power of the community-based groups who have worked through the national policy. Using a range of sources including but not limited to archives and interviews with conservationists, this dissertation historicizes the Ugandan wetlands conservation policy. It comprises two parts addressing overlapping time periods. The first three chapters consider the origination of this policy by analyzing environmental and intellectual changes in southeastern and southwestern Uganda, leading to the creation in the late-twentieth century of environmental regulations. The latter three chapters examine how conservationists have tried implementing the policy in rural and urban places, and in relation to the national emblem of Uganda – the Grey Crowned Crane. They have focused their efforts on community-based projects outside Protected Areas promoting indigenous knowledges and practices to obtain economic benefits from wetlands that conservationists. This approach was an early manifestation of connected trends in international developmentalist networks. Furthermore, the limitations on its implementation have become pivotal in the global histories of neoliberalization, decentralization, and recentralization. Historicizing Ugandan wetland conservationism contributes to four scholarly literatures. 1) Analyzing community-based projects outside “Protected Areas” advances the historiographies of conservation and watershed management in Africa by considering the significances of neoliberalization, decentralization, and recentralization beyond extraordinary legal cases. 2) Examining intellectual changes in this history – including an emphasis on community-based projects, use of the concept of ecosystem services, and the promotion of indigenous knowledges and sciences – reveals connections between changes in environmental science and global trends in developmentalism. 3) Focusing on these changes in Uganda builds on analyses of environmental management in political power there by identifying the importance of an underexamined resource in entrenched land conflicts, and by uncovering early institutional bases of recentralization. 4) Because Ugandan wetland conservationists were global leaders in policy creation, citizen science, and more changes in scientific thinking, researching their work reveals how African scientists have navigated tensions between their local, national, and international interlocutors to become internationally influential. Studying the history of Ugandan wetland conservationism reveals how different people’s engagements with changes in environmental thinking have reshaped environments and livelihoods, as well as influenced international scientific networks.

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Authors & Contributors
Ashworth, William J.
Black, Brian C.
Brackman, Harold David
Camprubí, Lino
Chapman, Graham
Duarte, Regina Horta
Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Environment and History
History of Science
Journal of Southern History
Journal of the History of Ideas
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Harvard University
Columbia University Press
Duke University Press
I. B. Tauris
Palgrave Macmillan
Science and politics
Science and economics
Environmental sciences
Conservation movement
Hayek, Friedrich August von
Huxley, Thomas Henry
Mises, Ludwig von
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, late
20th century, early
18th century
United States
Great Britain
Soviet Union
California (U.S.)
Florida (U.S.)
International Geophysical Year (IGY)
Convention du mètre (1875)
Everglades National Park

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