Settler Ecologies: The Enduring Nature of Settler Colonialism in Kenya

Monday 3 June 2024 (13:00-14:00)

IDD 60th Anniversary Special book launches

Settler Ecologies tells the story of how settler colonialism becomes memorialized and lives on through ecological relations. Drawing on eight years of research in Laikipia, Kenya, Charis Enns and Brock Bersaglio use immersive methods to reveal how animals and plants can be enrolled in the reproduction of settler colonialism.

The book details how ecological relations have been unmade and remade to enable settler colonialism to endure as a structure in this part of Kenya. It describes five modes of violent ecological transformation used to prolong structures of settler colonialism: eliminating undesired species; rewilding landscapes with species desirable to settler ecologists; repeopling nature to create seemingly more inclusive ecologies and capitalize on biocultural diversity; rescuing injured animals and endangered species to shore up support for settler ecologies; and extending settler ecologies through landscape approaches to conservation that scale wild spaces.

Settler Ecologies serves as a cautionary tale for future conservation agendas in all settler colonies. While urgent action is needed to halt global biodiversity loss, this book underscores the need to continually question whether the types of nature being preserved advance settler colonial structures or create conditions in which ecologies can otherwise be (re)made and flourish.

Speaker biography

  • Charis Enns is a presidential fellow in socio-environmental systems at the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.
  • Brock Bersaglio is an associate professor of environment and development in the International Development Department at the University of Birmingham.

Book endorsements

“Charis Enns and Brock Bersaglio offer a richly detailed and important retelling of the production of conservation landscapes in Kenya. Combining historic analysis with ethnography, they deftly weave the personal and political into a compelling account that disrupts popular narratives of quintessentially wild African landscapes. In its place Settler Ecologies exposes the ongoing acts of displacement, exclusion, replacement, and remaking involved in creating specific kinds of ecologies that support settler colonial roles in Africa and perpetuate colonial imaginaries of African landscapes.”
Mara Goldman, Associate Professor of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder

“With conservation actors gearing up to expand biodiversity protection to cover 30 per cent of the planet, Settler Ecologies is a critical reminder that the socioecological relations produced by conservation’s past are anything but innocuous. In this deeply researched and highly engaging book, Charis Enns and Brock Bersaglio trace and elucidate the changing, enduring, and highly unjust settler-colonial structures in Laikipia, Kenya, and argue that conservationists can and, importantly, must make radically different choices."
Bram Büscher, Professor and Chair of Sociology of Development and Change, Wageningen University, and author of The Truth about Nature: Environmentalism in the Era of Post-truth Politics and Platform Capitalism