An important paper by myself, Paul Hebinck and Sian Sullivan, was published last Friday (, see also the publications page and this Twitter thread by Sian Sullivan:

To be able to contextualise this paper a bit: in 2020 the three of us published a methodological/epistemological review paper in Society and Natural Resources about positionality and reflexivity in the socio-ecological sciences ( We received two very serious and rather aggressive complaint letters in response to this paper, including requests to retract the paper, personal attacks on Sian Sullivan and myself and legal threats, from two different (but institutionally related) groups of scholars/practitioners. One group are proponents of trophy hunting, and tends to be very vocal about this in academia and publicly, whereas the second group concerns scholars connected to or working for WWF Namibia/WWF US.

We responded to the complaint letters in detail and suggested that both groups of complainants would write a response in the journal, so that we would refrain from personal attacks, threats, and such types of bullying more generally. At first they were not willing, but later they changed their mind. In the end both groups wrote a response (see: and to which we responded again. For reasons still unclear to us, our response rejoinder was published on 15 December 2021, but retracted again on 16 December 2021. We never received a satisfying explanation for this from the publisher, and we as authors nor the journal editors were informed about this. We were told that a colleague working in the legal department had thought this was necessary, but later the publisher explained that this was all due to a production error.

Whatever their reason was, transparency was absent to us as authors and after an extended process of frustrated communication (in which I felt the need to collaborate with colleagues from the legal department of my university), we finally got our response back online again last Friday, five months after its retraction! (During the last few weeks it was put on hold, for reasons unclear to us, again we received no explanation from Taylor and Francis despite us asking for this). In the meantime, the complainants’ rejoinders were online all the time, and these include personal attacks on Sullivan and myself – something we had agreed upon with the publisher would not be allowed in the public debate – and many factual errors that we had pointed out to the publisher.

It’s unbelievable how little this was about content! We experienced it as pure power politics.

Furthermore, it seems as if the process is not even finished yet. T&F thus far says they will hold on to publishing Corrections to our original article from 2020, while most of these are not even corrections or they are ‘corrections’ of things we do not say in the paper. More importantly, these ‘corrections’ are all addressed in the now publicly accessible debate. It is unclear to us why this is even needed then, and the corrections are not supported by T&F’s own correction policy. Meanwhile, they are not willing to correct the rejoinders on clear factual errors that we have pointed out to them several times.

One thought on “New paper: Conservation science and discursive violence: A response to two rejoinders

  1. Dear Stasja,
    Thank you for the e-mail.
    It is simply astounding how your reports and publications reflect our practical experience in these matters.
    I could not have written it better as it is verbatim exactly how we experience and view the circumstances regarding this CBNRM farce. It is one well oiled and cleverly constructed Daisy chain supporting lifestyles and livelihoods of the member NGOs.
    We are totally overwhelmed by this consortium and stand no chance to make a difference as our successes will pose an existential threat to them all.
    Thanks for the superb work be assured of our support! Keep it coming! The paid praise singers behind the wheel of the propaganda machine of MEFT/DSC/SCI/WWF/IRDNC/NACSO/TOSCO/NNF etc. totally brainwashes everybody dumb enough to lap up their drivel which sadly includes the Conservancy communities and their “management”.
    Best regards,

    Liked by 1 person

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