This panel will focus on the local and larger-scale negotiations over rights in tangible and intangible resources generated by the migration and settlement of 'new highlanders' and by the return of wild animals that are currently experienced by the Alps and other upland areas of Europe.
After more than a century of massive demographic decline, the Alps and other upland European regions are now experiencing a partial trend reversal, for population has begun to grow in some areas. Yet this process has resulted in changes in the composition of local population - due to the migration and settlement of newcomers ranging from youth dissatisfied with city life to economic migrants and, recently, asylum-seekers and refugees. Meanwhile, wild animals such as wolves and bears have made their appearance in other areas. Moreover, the 'village elders' have lost much of their role in the intergenerational communication of knowledge about mountain ecosystems, and virtual media are increasingly drawn upon as sources of information. Just answering that the mountains and knowledge about them are the exclusive domains of mountaineers unduly obscures the local negotiations between long-term settled inhabitants and newcomers as part of much larger political and ideological debates: these involve a wide range of social and political actors, namely, institutions that are not necessarily 'located' in the Alpine/mountainous space. This panel encourages submission of paper proposals addressing issues such as: Whose mountains are these? Who is entitled to claim rights in these territories' tangible and intangible resources? Who has authority over knowledge about these areas? Which visions of the mountains are negotiated? Should mountains be conceived of as a common good or privately-owned land? Is the return of wild animals a symbol/symptom of an overdue recognition of the rights of wilderness or an obstacle to the re-peopling of these areas?