Valuing Species: The Continuities between Non-Market and Market Valuations in Biodiversity Conservation
Keywords:Biodiversity conservation, species, valuation, markets, performativity
This article explores how the rise of new markets for biodiversity has been facilitated by existing, non-market-based valuation practices within the field of biodiversity conservation. Where others have considered biodiversity markets in terms of capitalist and/or neoliberal expansion, I argue that the abstraction of the value of living things in markets is made easier by the existing valuation practices of species-based biodiversity conservation. After briefly contextualising the terms ‘species’ and ‘biodiversity’ within the history of Western conservation, the article shows how biodiversity conservation - as science, policy and practice - subordinates the value of individual living organisms and emplaced ecologies to the abstract categories of species and habitat types. This conceptual move performs a condition of ethical commensurability between individual organisms and places, thereby prefiguring the equivalence of value between units of the same category needed to establish new markets for biodiversity. The article considers this link between the valuation practices of species-based biodiversity conservation and new markets for biodiversity as an instance of performative continuity. The article concludes by reflecting on the critical use of attending to the links between existing valuation practices in biodiversity conservation and new biodiversity markets.
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