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«February 2020»

Fellow Seminar

14 November 2019

Dr. Svetoslava Toncheva will present her research proposal on the topic: "Living with or versus Nature? - Mitigation of Human-Bear Conflicts as a Bridge towards "Politics of Conviviality" on 14 November 2019 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS conference hall.


Various conflicts concerning wildlife and large predators such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos), in particular, are rising both globally and in Europe and Bulgaria in particular. Its conservation is, therefore, ‘a significant challenge in landscapes which are as densely populated and heavily modified as those found in much of Europe' (Temple, Terry, 2007).

Considering the multiple problems that accompany contemporary conservation, the current project undertakes the calls of leading conservation experts for new effective and legitimate conservation of large predators that requires humans and predators to cohabit the same space (Turnhout et al. 2013). As the dualistic approach in conservation has proven to further separate humans and nature and enhance existing conflicts, cohabitation or conviviality (Latin: convivere) is seen as a way of addressing the contemporary social and conservation contexts as well as the root causes of the conflicts. The concept of conviviality is namely seen as conservation model that would overcome the prevailing dichotomies between nature and culture, natural and social scientific approaches, etc. (Büscher, Fletcher 2019) and contribute to mitigation of conflicts and more successful and just co-existence of humans and nature.

The present project aims to explore, in this relation, the human-bear conflicts observed in various settlements in the Rodopi Mountains, Bulgaria, where people and bears coexist, sharing the same living space. In the context of the above outlined reasons, the case offers intriguing opportunity to explore the root causes for the conflicts, the mutual adaptation of humans and bears to "living together" (Boonman-Berson et al., 2016) as well as research on better ways to manage the conflicts and boost the conservation efforts of the brown bear.

Svetoslava Toncheva is assistant professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She holds a PhD in anthropology (2012) and has specialized at Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany (Institute of Slavonic Studies) and Wageningen University (Forest and Nature Conservation), Netherlands. Her major interests are addressed towards the fields of religion and environment, most recently the problematic relationship between humans and nature.


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