Top-down "green" EU policy and neoliberal development dramatically affect people living in or near EU protected areas. We invite ethnographic contributions that explore the resulting socio-environmental issues and ways in which traditional ecological knowledge might be integrated in future programs.
The relationships between "nature" and "culture" have long been interrogated from different perspectives, with environmental anthropology raising the issues of power, traditional ecological knowledge, loss of biocultural diversity, to name just a few. People living inside, or near, protected areas have been of particular interest: their ways of coping have been dramatically challenged by new institutions and international regulations. Neoliberal ideologies and politics are often blamed for environmental degradation and conflict in protected areas worldwide. However, a paucity of research in Europe, particularly, its eastern areas, means that environmental issues of these countries are less well examined and understood. The European Union is dramatically (re)shaping landscapes and local cultures through its "green policies", conceived in Brussels, often thousands of kilometers away from the communities intended to follow the environmental rules and regulations. This panel welcomes ethnographic contributions that explore how traditional ecological knowledge might be integrated in future policy-making and how communities living in, or near, national parks, biosphere reserves, or other protected areas respond to neoliberal "green" developments and EU policies. How did people live before the EU and how are its rules changing local cultures? Are there grassroots movements and are they colliding with top-down State approaches? Is post-socialism/communism still a factor and, if so, how are post-socialist communities different from those living in the "well established democratic western Europe"? What are other catalysts of landscape change of protected areas - tourism, mass-media, internet?