“The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity”. Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt
The biocultural perspective, a direct result of the crisis narrative regarding cultural and biological extinctions, overemphasises the homogenising effects of globalisation and fails to recognise processes that actively produce diversity. Cartographic visualisations depicting overlapping zones of biological and cultural diversity simplify complex realities and provide little guidance for policy and practice. Moving beyond this perspective requires problematisation of essentialist notions of culture, analysis of the politics surrounding the production of knowledge, and acknowledgement of the anthropogenic nature of landscapes often deemed “pristine”. The biocultural perspective is reviewed within the context of recent trends in conservation, from community-based conservation to the more recent “Strategic Turn” in conservation. To define a new perspective linking cultural diversity and conservation, the authors argue that we need a new politics of knowledge that: (a) moves beyond notions of TEK as the only valid form of local knowledge that can be integrated into conservation planning, (b) examines how local perspectives are translated between scales, and (c) creates new linkages between local knowledge and the policy domain. This new politics of knowledge can help make visible multiple actors, multiple forms of agency, and multiple regimes of credibility and can elucidate the ways in which knowledge about cultural diversity and biological diversity is produced, circulated, and incorporated into decision-making.