This book is intended to give the reader a tool-box of ideas about power to improve conservation. Conservation thought and practice are power laden: conservation interventions govern and affect peoples and ecologies, especially in the global South. Thus, I argue, being able to think deeply, particularly about power, would improve conservation policy-making and practice.

There are two different theoretical bases or roots that are used in the literature about power in conservation: one is based on Marx—which typifies most political ecology—and the other on Foucault—which is the literature examined in this book. Marxist approaches have tended to over-simplify Marx’s ideas, and this leads to an over-simplification of Foucault’s concepts as well. The book intends to prepare readers to think better about power.

This book is intended to clarify and make useful four of Foucault’s concepts of power that I see as most relevant to conservation, and that have been most used in environmental anthropology: the power of discourses, the triangle of three different models of governing (sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality), subject formation, and neoliberal governmentality. Latour’s immutable mobiles and metrology will also be covered, along with Scott’s state simplifying. Ethnographic examples are included for all kinds of power introduced.

I also introduce Foucault with a short biography and an examination of his general concept of power, which is the first tool in the tool-box of power in conservation.