Managing (Wild)Life: Integrating the Management of Nature and Captivity


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




Although understudied in academia and mostly unheard of by the general public, the in situ/ex situ dichotomy has shaped, and still very much shapes, the development of the nature conservation movement and its institutional alliances and divides over the last few decades. Latin for "in" and "out" of place, these paired terms often stand in for the seemingly less scientific dichotomy between nature and captivity. Drawing on ethnographic engagements with conservation scientists, this project explores the genealogy of the in situ/ex situ dyad in the conservation movement and its effect on animal population management models, practices, and regulation. In particular, it follows the attempts by a handful of conservation scientists to bridge the schism of nativity and alterity through explorations of viability, relationality, and biodiversity and by employing metapopulation models for managing wild animals. This grounded study of scientific practices elicits the possibility of conservation management without nature.