Professor Ben Gardner on tourism, culture and the politics of conservation

Submitted by the Lopez Island Library

How does tourism shape the very meaning and value of a landscape? Who gets to speak for nature and wildlife: local people or conservationists? What do the words “nature” and “wildlife” even mean? The Lopez Library is pleased to present “A Road Runs Through It: Tourism, Culture, and the Politics of Conservation,” a public program with author and UW professor Ben Gardner. The presentation will be on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts.

Gardner’s presentation will explore the concept of conservation through the lens of safari tourism in Tanzania, where the Maasai community has found itself struggling at the intersection of environmental activism, tourism, land rights and civic rights; and where a proposed highway through the Serengeti sparked international outrage. Ben Gardner tells the story of how safari tourism in Tanzania shapes the very meaning and value of the landscape, and why Maasai communities have organized to fight for control of their land.

Ben Gardner is associate professor of global studies, environmental studies and cultural studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. He is also chair of the African Studies Program in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. His research examines the relationship between tourism, conservation and development. his book, “Selling the Serengeti: The Cultural Politics of Safari Tourism” questions pervasive myths about who owns nature in Africa and how colonial discourses around conservation shape contemporary environmental politics.

This is the final presentation in the library’s Human/Nature fall speaker series, which has explored the intersections between the human and natural worlds, co-sponsored by the Friends of the Lopez Library and a grant from the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau. All library programs are free and open to the public. See you there!