|Title||Reassessing Fortress Conservation? New Media and the Politics of Distinction in Kruger National Park|
|Source||Annals of the Association Of American Geographers 106 (2016)1. - ISSN 0004-5608 - p. 114 - 129.|
Sociology of Development and Change
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
The idea of protected areas as fortress conservation has long been debated and heavily criticized. In practice, however, the paradigm is alive and well and has, in some cases and especially due to rapid increases in poaching, seen major reinforcements. This article contributes to discussions that aim to reassess fortress conservation ideas and practices by analyzing how new online media are changing the politics of access to and control over increasingly militarized protected areas. Focusing on South Africa's Kruger National Park, one of the most iconic and mediated conservation areas globally, this article argues that new media such as online groups, webcams, and mobile phone apps encourage a new politics of social distinction in relation to the park and what it represents. These politics of distinction lead to complex new ways in which the boundaries of “fortress Kruger” are rendered (more) permeable and (more) restrictive at the same time. The article concludes that it is precisely through rendering park boundaries more permeable that new media technologies could help to reinforce the racialized and unequal hierarchies of the social order that fortress conservation was built on.