‘We are the true guardians of the environment’: human-environment relations and debates about the future of the Chagos Archipelago

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Abstract

This article applies Ingold's conceptualization of environmental outlooks ranging from the ‘globe’ to the ‘sphere’ to explore human-environment relations and debates about the future of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Chagossians and conservationists broadly represent the two extremes of the engaged lifeworld of the sphere and the detached worldview of the globe, respectively, but I argue that this does not necessarily determine their environmental outlooks for the future. It is not simply the case either that Chagossians uniformly advocate resettlement of Chagos or that conservationists uniformly oppose resettlement. Within each group two distinct environmental outlooks are identified: engagement versus withdrawal amongst Chagossians, and exclusion versus participation amongst conservationists. The article demonstrates, then, that environmental outlooks are influenced not only by understandings of human-environment relations but also by pragmatic and ideological considerations.

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