The anthropology of postenvironmental landscapes

Authored by: Werner Krauss

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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Environmentalism is often identified with singling out stretches of land in order to protect them from the ills of modernity. Since the 1970s, the number of protected areas has constantly been on the rise, and they have significantly shaped our ‘way of seeing, understanding and (re)producing the world’ (West et al. 2006: 252). This strategy has recently come under critique from a newly formed movement or strategy called ‘postenvironmentalism’. Postenvironmentalism was introduced by the American activists Nordhaus and Shellenberger (2004) in a manifesto called ‘The Death of Environmentalism’. They argued that creating just another nature reserve is not enough to face the challenges posed by global climate change. Instead, the need for mitigation of greenhouse gases and adaptation to the effects of a changing climate makes active management of landscapes indispensable. In the anthropocene, they argue, the separation of nature from culture and landscape from development does not make sense any more. The concept of the anthropocene was introduced by Crutzen and Stoermer (2000) as a consequence of the increasing and irreversible influence of humanity on the earth system, with anthropogenic climate change as the most prominent example.

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