Wild experiments at the Oostvaardersplassen: rethinking environmentalism in the Anthropocene

J. Lorimer, C.P.G. Driessen

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97 Citations (Scopus)


This paper draws together recent literatures on the geography of experiments and the potential of experimental modes of conducting science and politics. It examines their implications for environmentalism in the Anthropocene. We differentiate between two different conceptions of an experiment, contrasting the singular, modern scientific understanding of an experiment with recent appeals for deliberative public experiments. Developing the concept of wild experiments we identify three axes for critical enquiry. These relate to the status of the nonhuman world as found or made, the importance afforded order and surprise in the conduct of any experiment and the degree and means by which publics are included in decisionmaking. We then illustrate the potential of this framework through a case study investigation of nature conservation, critically examining efforts to rewild and de-domesticate a polder landscape and its nonhuman inhabitants at the Oostvaardersplassen in the Netherlands. This is a flagship example of the wider enthusiasm for rewilding in nature conservation. In conclusion we reflect on wider significance and potential of these wild experiments for rethinking environmentalism in the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-181
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • conservation
  • management
  • knowledge
  • geography
  • ecology
  • science
  • europe
  • things
  • world
  • urban

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