A local counter-narrative on the conservation of Mountain Gorillas
Tumusiime, David Mwesigye
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Using social science narrative analysis, we studied how people who live next to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (Bwindi INP) in Uganda narrate about their situation. We found a dominant ambivalence narrative, which deviates substantially from win–win and traditionalist narratives, both of which have been produced by external actors about the same case. Each of the two latter narratives is associated with a broader discourse on protected areas in Africa. The ambivalence narrative describes a situation in which villagers are forced to pay a high price for conservation of the habitat of mountain gorillas. Nevertheless, it contains hope for the future associated with economic benefits from the park through tourism. When looking at the findings of ‘realist’ studies of costs, benefits and participation, we conclude the dissatisfaction to be well-grounded. Furthermore, we highlight types of changes that would have to take place if the hope for the future is to be realised. The ambivalence narrative constitutes a counter-narrative to externally produced wisdom.