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Accepted Paper:

From negotiation to contestation: understanding the meaning of wild landscapes in the Carpathians  
George Iordachescu (University of SibiuWageningen University)

Paper short abstract:

The intervention discusses the contentious negotiations around protecting and producing wilderness in the Carpathian Mountains. Based on ethnographic data and discourse analysis, the paper shows how culturally layered landscapes are erased in the active process of revamping them as untouched nature.

Paper long abstract:

The current paper investigates critically the current contention around defining the wilderness areas of the Carpathians by transforming physically and discoursively culturally layered landscapes into untouched nature.

From the European Green Belt Initiative to the Wild Rivers of the Balkans and the newly established Endangered Landscapes Program, Eastern Europe is currently the focal point of many conservation initiatives advocating for a wilder future. Within these projects, extractive industries and traditional land uses are to be replaced by green businesses and ecotourism. However, this wilderness momentum, though manifesting differently across the region, has brought to the table a plethora of state and private institutions, investment funds and environmental NGOs, movie directors and PR specialists, farmers and mushroom pickers, affluent tourists and local villagers.

Using the case of a world-class conservation project developed in the Romanian Carpathians, the paper will analyze how new meanings of wild landscapes emerge, transform by circulating within the public sphere, and are contested by locals or, on the contrary, are advocated for by activists and wildlife photographers.

Based on ethnographic data collected over three years of fieldwork, on discourse analysis and ecocriticism, the paper will show how the active production of wilderness erases traditional ecological knowledge and local environmental history by constructing a staged atemporal and de-politicized authenticity that aids the development of ecotourism centered around leisure and passive contemplation of a wilder landscape.

Panel Env01
Landscape - the instructions manual: negotiating the meanings of landscape [SIEF Working Group Space-lore and Place-lore]
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -