An intersectional approach to neoliberal environmentality : Women's engagement with ecotourism at Corbett Tiger Reserve, India

Pandya, Revati


Research in environmentality has provided an analysis of environmentally friendly subject formation through the influence of conservation governance. Within this research, examination of subject formation from the local community perspective is also gaining attention. However, a gender perspective in environmentality research remains marginal. This study thus contributes to environmentality research by drawing on intersectional feminist political ecology to examine women's engagement with ecotourism in the context of India's Corbett Tiger Reserve. Ecotourism as a form of market-based conservation has been commonly framed as an expression of neoliberal environmentality. Neoliberal environmentality is reflected in market-centred incentives used to promote conservation and support for local people via employment in conservation-based work - a supposedly ‘win-win’ dynamic. Through ethnographic research, I provide insights into different forms of women's engagement with tourism. The analysis reveals that this engagement does not necessarily produce the environmentally friendly subject that environmentality analysis predicts. Rather, women's engagement is shaped by intersecting dynamics of caste and class and motivated by factors including but not limited to monetary benefits. This study thus questions the dominant approach to investigating neoliberal environmentality in particular, that tends to emphasise the influence of monetary incentives in producing environmentally friendly subjects.