An overwhelming impression, after being confronted with the experiences of fourteen analyst–practitioners in Shahabuddin and Rangarajan’s edited volume, is the strong legacy of 150 years of state run conservation policy in India. The synoptic views of government departments, the lack of trust for government officials among the affected people, the uneven distribution of resources and mix of exclusionary measures combined with an equal mix of capacity of implementation is familiar to any researcher of nineteenth and twentieth century colonial history. The contributors together represent a vast range of thoroughly grounded expert knowledge on conservation from ecological, social and political points of view. Most of the authors have personal experience of working in conservation related organisations; only a few are full-time academics. Thereby, the analytical methods differ significantly between the texts, as do the terminology and theoretical language.
The texts represent fields as varied as to include historical studies searching to detect conservation discourses and ecological studies of rainforest restoration to NGO self assessment and policy prescription. Even if the methodological difficulties involved in such a cross-boundary enterprise could have been dwelt on further, the volume is a testimony to the usefulness of intensifying and deepening discussions between academics and practitioners, and to the need to develop further our capacity to communicate across analytical divides.