Towards "Politics of Conviviality"
Living with or versus Nature? - Mitigation of Human-Bear Conflicts as a Bridge towards „Politics of Conviviality”
Various conflicts concerning wildlife and large predators such as the brown bear are rising both globally and in Europe and Bulgaria in particular. Its conservation is, therefore, a significant challenge in landscapes which are as densely populated and heavily modified as those found in much of Europe.
Considering the multiple problems that accompany contemporary conservation, the project undertakes the calls of leading conservation experts for new effective and legitimate conservation of large predators that requires humans and predators to cohabit the same space. As the dualistic approach in conservation has proven to further separate humans and nature and enhance existing conflicts, cohabitation or conviviality is seen as a way of addressing the contemporary social and conservation contexts as well as the root causes of the conflicts. Convivial conservation (Büscher, Fletcher, 2020) is namely seen as a model that would overcome the prevailing dichotomies between nature and culture, natural and social scientific approaches, etc. and contribute to mitigation of conflicts and more successful and just co-existence of humans and nature.
The project explores, in this relation, the human-bear conflicts observed in few settlements in the Rodopi mountains – Arda, Mogilitsa and Gorna Arda, Bulgaria, where people and bears coexist sharing the same living space. The case offers intriguing opportunity to explore the root causes for the conflicts, the mutual adaptation of humans and bears to “living together” (Boonman-Berson et al., 2016) as well as research on better ways to manage the conflicts and boost the conservation efforts of the brown bear.
Boonman-Berson, S., Turnhout, E., Carolan, M. (2016). Common sensing: Human-black bear cohabitation practices in Colorado. Geoforum, 74, 192-201.
Büscher, B., R. Fletcher (2020). The Conservation Revolution. Radical Ideas for Saving Nature Beyond the Anthropocene. London, Verso.