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5. Dissonant sustainabilities? Politicising and psychologising antagonisms in the conservation-development nexus.


Sian Sullivan (March 2018)

Abstract. Reflecting on more than twenty years engagement with the idea that development and economic growth are essential for ensuring environmental conservation and sustainability, a key experience for me has been that of dissonance. In this talk I draw on the concept of ‘dissonance’ as explored some decades ago by psychologist Leon Festinger in A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957). I focus in particular on how the coherence of sustainability discourse is managed precisely by managing, and often excluding, contradictory information, however robustly argued and evidenced that information might be. My intention is to highlight ways in which this management of dissonance is also ideological in nature, with implications for understanding the antagonisms with which sustainability discourse is infused.

Key words. cognitive dissonance; sustainability; conservation and development; Namibia; CBNRM; conservancies; trophy hunting; biodiversity offsetting; blockchain technology; cryptocurrencies; ideology

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