NEWS | The imaginary ‘Asian Super Consumer’: A critique of demand reduction campaigns for the illegal wildlife trade

Demand reduction campaigns for IWT can build on and reproduce problematic racist stereotypes that conjure up the figure of the ‘Asian Super Consumer’

A new article from Dr Jared Margulies (University of Alabama), Dr Rebecca Wong (City University of Hong Kong) and Prof Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield) has just been published in Geoforum.
The article is titled “The imaginary ‘Asian Super Consumer’: A critique of demand reduction campaigns for the illegal wildlife trade”. It is fully open access – you can read the abstract below and download a copy here.

  • Demand reduction campaigns for IWT can build on and reproduce problematic racist stereotypes that conjure up the figure of the ‘Asian Super Consumer’

  • IWT campaigns can often present Asian Super Consumers as the problem in IWT, requiring conservation interventions to change their behaviours

  • We argue for more culturally nuanced and locally specific understandings of patterns of consumption in IWT

  • More nuanced demand reduction campaigns may be more effective and can help reduce cultural misrepresentation and racism in conservation initiatives.

Abstract:

There is increasing focus on altering consumer behavior within the conservation sector working to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT). In this review we highlight how demand reduction campaigns can build on and reproduce problematic stereotypes that create and perpetuate a figure we characterize as the “Asian Super Consumer.” While there are numerous studies critiquing disturbing and racist narratives of particular actors engaged in the supply-side of IWT, the problematic ways in which racism can steer debates characterizing illegal wildlife product consumers remains generally under-explored. We focus on key examples of ivory demand reduction campaigns in China. We argue for more culturally-sensitive understandings of illegal wildlife product consumers and their motivations. Culturally-nuanced approaches in demand reduction campaigns are essential not just because they may be more effective, but because they move beyond on-going violent histories of cultural misrepresentation and racism.

 

Now translated into traditional and simplified Chinese: