122: Decolonizing Conservation with Mathew Mabele

In this episode, Divya speaks with Mathew Mabele. Mathew is a Conservation Social Scientist, currently appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Dodoma in Tanzania. Mathew’s research uses the lenses of political ecology and decolonial thinking to shed light on the systemic structures and processes driving socio-ecological injustices. His work explicitly focuses on knowledge systems, power, and politics over framings of concepts such as biodiversity conservation, protected areas, human-wildlife coexistence, and sustainability.

Divya discusses Mathew’s work on decolonizing conservation research in Tanzania. This conversation was based on Mathew’s recent work highlighting the challenges of representation and the impacts of the global North funding on conservation research in the global South. Mathew’s balanced perspective resonates throughout the discussion—not anti-global North, but rather, a call to recalibrate research practices for greater inclusivity and justice.

The conversation concludes with a discussion on Mathew’s other ongoing collaboration on the Convivial Conservation project, where he has collaborated with a large group of scholars to chart pathways for a socially just, democratic, and inclusive form of biodiversity governance.


Mabele, M. B., Nnko, H., Mwanyoka, I., Kiwango, W. A., & Makupa, E. (2023). Inequalities in the production and dissemination of biodiversity conservation knowledge on Tanzania: A 50-year bibliometric analysis. Biological Conservation, 279, 109910.

Mabele, M. B., Kiwango, W. A., & Mwanyoka, I. (2023). Disrupting the epistemic empire is necessary for a decolonial ecology. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1-1.

Kiwango, W. A., & Mabele, M. B. (2022). Why the convivial conservation vision needs complementing to be a viable alternative for conservation in the Global South. Conservation & Society, 20(2), 179-189.

Mabele, M. B., Krauss, J. E., & Kiwango, W. (2022). Going Back to the roots: Ubuntu and just conservation in southern Africa. Conserv. Soc. 20, 92.

Collins, Y. A., Macguire-Rajpaul, V., Krauss, J. E., Asiyanbi, A., Jiménez, A., Bukhi Mabele, M., & Alexander-Owen, M. (2021). Plotting the coloniality of conservation. Journal of Political Ecology.

Corbera, E., Maestre-Andrés, S., Collins, Y. A., Mabele, M. B., & Brockington, D. (2021). Decolonizing biodiversity conservation. Journal of Political Ecology, 28, 889.

Massarella, K., Nygren, A., Fletcher, R., Büscher, B., Kiwango, W. A., Komi, S., … & Percequillo, A. R. (2021). Transformation beyond conservation: how critical social science can contribute to a radical new agenda in biodiversity conservation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 49, 79-87.

Büscher, B., & Fletcher, R. (2019). Towards convivial conservation. Conservation & Society, 17(3), 283-296.