AAG 2018 | Call for Papers

AAG 2018 Call for Papers: 'New and Changing Geographies of Wildlife Crime' to be convened by Jared Margulies and Francis Masse. CfP deadline 15 October 2017.

Call for Papers: Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting, 10-14 April 2018, New Orleans

‘New and Changing Geographies of Wildlife Crime’

Organisers: Francis Masse (York University) and Jared Margulies (University of Sheffield)

Discussant: Bram Buscher (Wageningen University)


From extralegal rhino and elephant hunting, to illegal timber harvesting, to illegal, unregulated, and underreported fishing (IUU), and the sourcing and trade of birds and reptiles, wildlife crime and the responses to it are gaining increasing scholarly and policy attention. The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) defines wildlife as “all fauna and flora” (CITES, 2017). It defines crime as “acts committed contrary to national laws and regulations intended to protect natural resources and to administer their management and use” (Ibid). At the same time, wildlife crime is also transnational in scope, as the transport and sale of illicitly harvested or otherwise protected species of fauna and flora make up the growing illegal wildlife trade (IWT), a multi-billion dollar a year industry (UNDP, 2015).

Studying wildlife crime and the responses to it thus requires multiscalar research including the spaces and sites of extraction, transit, and consumption of wildlife, to the connections and flows in-between that span the local to the global. This includes spaces of conservation, the open seas, surrounding communities, to ports of entry and exit, global meetings, and (il)legal sites of purchase and consumption both online and offline (Hansen et al., 2012; Hübschle, 2016a, 2016b; White, 2016). Efforts to combat wildlife crime similarly take us from local areas of sourcing, such as protected areas (Lemieux, 2014; Lunstrum, 2014), to international forums and regional policing agreements (White, 2016), and demand-reduction campaigns (TRAFFIC, 2017). Such efforts involve communities (Massé et al., 2017; Roe et al., 2015) and increasingly more-than-conservation actors, both state and non-state (Nurse, 2013). Put simply, wildlife crime and the ways in which it is responded to are not relegated to a certain scale or political-ecological space.

Moreover, while much of the above might reflect or embody familiar geographical, political-ecological, and socio-ecological dynamics, we are also seeing new and changing dynamics and spatialities concerning wildlife crime and efforts to combat it (Büscher, Forthcoming). These dynamics are shaped by a variety of factors including the very labelling of the illicit harvesting of wildlife as “crime” and those who engage with harvesting as “criminals.” Wildlife crime is also increasingly framed as a crisis, “war”, or a security issue connected to organized crime and terrorism that enfold wildlife crime in geopolitical dynamics that are shaping responses to it and where such responses take place (Büscher, Forthcoming; Duffy, 2014, 2016; Marijnen, 2017).

The result is that wildlife crime, responses to wildlife crime, and the studying of each is taking place in new spaces and at new scales prompting an engagement with what might be termed more-than-conservation spaces, actors, and interests. It is these changing geographies and related political-/socio-ecological dynamics that this session is primarily interested in. Drawing on the above, there are three key areas of focus for this session:

  1. The spaces (and places) of wildlife crime and responses to it;
  2. The ways in which the political-ecological and socio-ecological dynamics of wildlife crime intersect with the geopolitical and political-geographic;
  3. How these changes might influence or necessitate new approaches to studying wildlife crime.

Of particular interest are presentations that bring light to novel developments and/or changes to each with a view to why such changes are occurring and what the implications might be.

Specific topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • The changing spatialities and geographies of wildlife crime and the responses to it.
  • Legal geographies related to the illicit harvesting of wildlife and the production of “crime” and “criminals.”
  • New understandings and problematizations of what might be considered “wildlife crime” and wildlife law enforcement.
  • The multi-scalar nature of wildlife crime and the connections between local and global ecologies and political-dynamics.
  • Shifting and new geopolitics and political-geographies of wildlife crime and responses.
  • The intersection of wildlife crime and related enforcement measures with other sectors and geopolitical, political-geographical, and political-ecological dynamics.
  • Theoretical and conceptual approaches to studying wildlife crime.
  • Innovative ways to study wildlife crime and responses to it.

Please e-mail abstracts of up to 250 words to Francis Massé (massef@yorku.ca) and Jared Margulies (j.margulies@sheffield.ac.uk) by 15th October 2017. Successful applicants will be contacted no later than 20th October 2017 and will need to submit their abstract online to the AAG portal thereafter.