Biopolitics from Below: People’s Engagements with Wildlife Management Areas in Southern Tanzania

Lucius R. Mugisha


The manner in which people in southern Tanzania have engaged with wildlife management areas (WMAs)—areas for wildlife conservation established on what used to be village land for livelihood generation—is not clear. Banking on Foucault (2008)’s concept of governmentality ─the conduct of conduct—I indicate that under WMAs, people internalise and apply or challenge naturenurture divide conservation model on the village land. Reflecting on the qualitative data collected from village communities around Mbarag’andu and Kimbanda WMAs, I show some WMA regulations dispossess people their access to important livelihood and use the concept of biopolitics from below and indicate that try to challenge such dispossession process. Notably, I show that contrary to the proposed fortress conservation under WMAs, people bank on improved road infrastructure and availability of motorcycle transport to gain access to conserved yet highly productive areas for crop-farming. I lastly call for a reconceptualization of conservation practices and their relations to surrounding communities.

Key terms: WMAs, governmentality, biopolitics from below, naturesociety divide

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