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Week 9

Thursday 29 November

Two-hour seminar: Parks and the Birth of Environmentalism and Conservation

  • Primary Source

-Read: US Congress, “An Act To establish a National Park Service, and for other purposes”, 1916

-Watch “The Last Refuge" (1890–1915)”. This is episode n°2 of the famous documentary of 6 episodes (2009) on US national parks

  • Secondary Sources

James Morton Turner, "Rethinking American Exceptionalism: Toward a Transnational History of National Parks, Wilderness, and Protected Areas", in Andrew C. Isenberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Environmental History, (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014)

Theodore Binnema and Melanie Niemi, “‘Let the line be drawn now’: Wilderness, conservation and the exclusion of aboriginal people from Banff National Park in Canada, Environmental History, 11/4, pp. 724– 750

Seminar questions
1-How might we discuss this document (the creation of Yellowstone National Park) in terms of environmental history?

Based on your understanding of the act creating Yellowstone National Park and the short documentary, try to define the American ‘idea’ of a national park.

2-“The tract of land in the territories of Montana, Wyoming (….) is hereby reserved (…), set apart as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”.Try to discuss the expression ‘enjoyment of the people’ in relation to your understanding of the American ‘idea’ of a national park

3-“Inhabited Wilderness in the USA is a human creation” Cronon. Discuss
‘National park in the US include and exclude man and were a means to colonize the West”. Discuss

4-What are the social and ecological consequences of preservation? Try to base your discussions on different models of national parks

5-How would you define the new paradigm of ‘protected areas’?
Are national parks and protected areas the best way to safeguard and protect endangered species?