Behind struggles over resource use and patterns of development are collective fictions that relate us to our material surroundings. "Environmental imaginaries" refers to the competing discourses that arrange society around processes of development and change. This course will heighten your awareness of the poetics and politics of competing imaginaries and get you thinking about practical implications for scholarship, planning, and citizenship. What are the narratives that enable the separation of "culture" from "environment," the private from the commons, life space from economic space? How are these narratives grounded in such diverse sites as Appalachian strip mines, national forests, and Sea World; and in such practices as nature talks, protest rallies, and permit hearings? Drawing on theories of worldmaking, and on case studies of culture and environment, we will explore the cultural aspects of environmental policy, the potential of ethnographic fieldwork as a strategy for community-based planning, and the legislative and institutional toeholds for defending the commons on cultural grounds. Coursework will include keeping a journal in which you relate course readings to a current environmental issue of your choice, making an in-class presentation, and a final paper.
The Primary Course listing for this course is FOLK575:401.