Beyond Contesting Limits

Beyond Contesting Limits: Land, Access, and Resistance at the Virunga National Park

Conservation & Society, 15 (1), 2017, pp 100-110.

Open Source Full Text available at Conservation & Society.

by Hochleithner, Stephan


After almost two decades of violent conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – during which time the Virunga National Park was focused mainly on ‘mere survival’ – nature conservation practices in the Park began following strategies of re-enclosure in 2003. These practices are being contested by local population groups using a variety of different strategies. While local and trans-local elites employ more overt, explicit forms of (political) contestation, peasants resort to ‘weapons of the weak’, engaging in more covert, implicit forms of everyday resistance, whereby the customary mode of organising access to land works –among other functions– as a vehicle for resistance. This paper argues that this multi-dimensional resistance ties in with general conflict dynamics in eastern DRC, while at the same time reproducing them within the realm of nature conservation, tightly interwoven with global dynamics.


  • Nature conservation;
  • resistance;
  • access;
  • land;
  • conflict;
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Virunga National Park