Jared Margulies R.W. Wong, R. Duffy
Margulies, J.D., R.W. Wong, & R. Duffy. 2019. The imaginary ‘Asian Super Consumer’: A critique of demand reduction campaigns for the illegal wildlife trade. Geoforum 107: 216-219.
There is increasing focus on altering consumer behavior within the conservation sector working to combat illegal wildlife trade (IWT). In this review we highlight how demand reduction campaigns can build on and reproduce problematic stereotypes that create and perpetuate a figure we characterize as the “Asian Super Consumer.” While there are numerous studies critiquing disturbing and racist narratives of particular actors engaged in the supply-side of IWT, the problematic ways in which racism can steer debates characterizing illegal wildlife product consumers remains generally under-explored. We focus on key examples of ivory demand reduction campaigns in China. We argue for more culturally-sensitive understandings of illegal wildlife product consumers and their motivations. Culturally-nuanced approaches in demand reduction campaigns are essential not just because they may be more effective, but because they move beyond on-going violent histories of cultural misrepresentation and racism.