"Which Nature?": A Case Study of Whitetop Mountain
Robertson, David Porter
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In light of the social construction of nature, "new" ecology, and the fact that neither nature nor science (as the systematic study of it) can tell us what the Earth should look like, it becomes evident that numerous (if not infinite) past, present and future natures exist from which society must select the nature or natures that become the goals of local environmental management. The challenge is to find themes or patterns that might help organize and discuss these many natures. It is not enough to say or to demonstrate that many natures exist. Society needs conceptual tools that help focus the discussion of "Which Nature?" on those that are possible and socially acceptable. This paper is an effort to identify and articulate some of these themes to see if they have power in helping structure public understandings of natural landscapes. Specifically, we are looking for natures that are evident in a larger national dialogue, reflect issues that are significant to the region where the nature being managed exists, and themes that have historic and place-specific qualities that can be found in local discourse about the place. Four different but closely related points of view fit this need: romanticism, ecotourism, pastoralism, and ecologism. These four "views of nature" are distinct and coherent "ways of seeing" evident in national, regional, and local discussions about nature and natural landscapes. Each promotes a unique range of "natural" conditions that will be more-or-less possible and acceptable in any particular place. In the following sections, I will first provide a general overview of the "natural" landscape of Whitetop Mountain and then describe how it is can be seen from each of the four alternative "views of nature."
- Masters Theses