Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2495-2518; doi:10.3390/su5062495

Whose Diversity Counts? The Politics and Paradoxes of Modern Diversity

1 Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA 2 Department of Anthropology, Yale University, 10 Sachem Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA 3 Yale Climate and Energy Institute, 195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511, USA 4 The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 8 April 2013; in revised form: 14 May 2013 / Accepted: 24 May 2013 / Published: 6 June 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Endangered Human Diversity: Languages, Cultures, Epistemologies)
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Abstract: Is “diversity” a modern concept, like indigeneity or biodiversity, which is conceived precisely at the time that it seems to be threatened and on the verge of disappearing? In the face of perceived threats to diversity, projects and policies have been crafted to protect, promote, or conserve diversity, but in doing so they have often demonstrated a paradoxical propensity toward purity and authority in representations of diversity. Perceptions of “pure” natural diversity might represent native forests comprised solely of native species; “pure” cultural diversity might represent indigenous peoples who still speak indigenous languages and wear native dress. If purity is emblematic of diversity, what, then, is the place of hybrid landscapes and peoples? In our study, we draw on a range of examples—of agrobiodiversity conservation in Bolivia, satellite mapping initiatives in Madagascar and Ecuador, scientific authority about anthropogenic climate change, indigenous language and identity in Peru, and a comparison of the Amazon and Atlantic Forest in Brazil—to demonstrate gaps between representations of diversity, and the heterogeneous local realities they obscure. We suggest that hybridity is a form of diversity unto itself—albeit a form of diversity that is more complex, and thus harder to codify and categorize.
Keywords: diversity; modernity; purity; hybridity; mapping; scientific authority; climate change; indigenous languages; political ecology

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MDPI and ACS Style

Baker, L.; Dove, M.; Graef, D.; Keleman, A.; Kneas, D.; Osterhoudt, S.; Stoike, J. Whose Diversity Counts? The Politics and Paradoxes of Modern Diversity. Sustainability 2013, 5, 2495-2518.

AMA Style

Baker L, Dove M, Graef D, Keleman A, Kneas D, Osterhoudt S, Stoike J. Whose Diversity Counts? The Politics and Paradoxes of Modern Diversity. Sustainability. 2013; 5(6):2495-2518.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Baker, Lauren; Dove, Michael; Graef, Dana; Keleman, Alder; Kneas, David; Osterhoudt, Sarah; Stoike, Jeffrey. 2013. "Whose Diversity Counts? The Politics and Paradoxes of Modern Diversity." Sustainability 5, no. 6: 2495-2518.

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