RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016


260 Historical geographies of conservation
Chair(s) Daniel Allen (Keele University, UK)
Timetable Thursday 01 September 2016, Session 4 (16:50 - 18:30)
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2016@rgs.org
"Spare the Spear!": Restyling the otter through hunting landscapes, 1844-1884
Daniel Allen (Keele University, UK)
Sir Edwin Landseer's painting The Otter Speared, Portrait of the Earl of Aberdeen's Otterhounds, or the Otter Hunt (1844) is the most famous representation of otter hunting in Britain. Yet forty years later the controversial practice of spearing had discontinued. Mr Collier's Otter Hounds of Devon became the last to use the spear in 1884, choosing to abandon it 'as his field did not care to see so gallant a beast suffer such an end'. By the twentieth century otter hunters spoke of the 'remote and barbarous days of the spear', broadly disregarding spearing as one of the 'blood-thirsty methods used by our forefathers'. With focus on internal debates to 'Spare the Spear' in The Field magazine, this paper traces the transition from patronage to disassociation, predatory pest to valued beast. It reveals how organised otter hunts emerged separately, developing their own particular codes of conduct and identities in relation to regional environments and understandings of the animal. It also shows how a national magazine brought together regional "otter hunters" providing a useful stage for policing moral boundaries and influencing a standardised mode of killing. The paper concludes by showing how the otter was restyled in 'gallant' sporting terms to claim legitimacy of its life and death.
Camp Chicano: Mexican-Americans, Civilian Conservation Corps and the Great Outdoors
Stevie Ruiz (California State University, USA)
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public works relief program established in 1933. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the program for young men ages 18-23 in order to springboard employment opportunities after the stock market crash of 1929. An understudied dimension was the thousands of Mexican-American youth who were recruited to work in the forestry service to build national parks throughout the United States. In this paper, I analyze the spatial politics that were imbued in camp life for young Mexican-Americans who predominantly lived in urban areas but were recruited to live in camps in rural locations. I argue that camp life demonstrated the racial, political and gendered politics that was a part in creating one of the largest forestry movements in U.S. history. An area of interest as an Environmental Justice scholar is how and why Mexican-Americans were written out of the historical memory of preservation, conservation, and environmentalism movements considering they were a key crux of the movement in the 1930s.
Environmental protection and the LN initiatives: The first attempts at international global agreements and their significance for modern environmental protection
Thomas S. Carhart (University of Freiburg, Germany)
The League of Nations has never been seen as leading the way in international environmental protection. In fact the League of Nations from its first years on was involved in the protection of the environment. Environmental protection was of course an agenda of international scope long before the League of Nations was constituted. NGO's had in the second half of the 19th century already been calling for international environmental agreements, in particular for the protection of animals and birds. New is the collection and pooling of global information at an international level with the aim of facilitating the installation of global agreements for the protection of the environment. This work of the League of Nations was not bundled in one committee but spread out over temporary subcommittees. The League of Nations was involved in a wide range of environmental questions covering topics from the environmental damage through armaments and pesticides to such as the impact of oil pollution for the world's oceans and coastal ecology. This work of the League of Nations laid the ground for the later initiatives of the UN and shows that todays environmental problems were already internationally recognized and globally visible in the first quarter of the 20th century and not new to the post war environmental movement.
A Geographical Study of Viking Shielings in Scotland
Ryan Foster (The University of Edinburgh, UK)
Studying Scandinavian settlement in Britain during the Viking Age has many drawbacks, surviving documentation is patchy, elite biased and partisan in tone. Rarely is settlement mentioned, especially marginal settlements such as shielings, this leaves archaeology and place-names as the main evidence for any Scandinavian settlement. The Scottish term shieling refers to a summer farm where livestock, especially cattle, were herded. Incoming Scandinavian settlers not only used sætr, an Old Norse term for a shieling, but also, unusually, a Gaelic loanword ærgi. Gillian Fellows-Jensen has suggested that there must have been 'Something characteristic about the location or the function of the ǣrgi in the Scottish colonies that lead Viking settlers there to refer to it by the Gaelic term rather than by a Scandinavian word such as sætr' (1985). Fellows-Jensen further suggests that to understand the use of these two shieling names, it may require 'research by ethographers and geographers' (1977-8). To try to discover the reasoning behind the borrowing of the term ærgi, I conducted a locational survey to isolate the geographical characteristics of both generic elements, the basis of the study involved Carl Saur's theory of a 'cultural landscape' (1925) and incorporating William Kirks behavioural model (1963).
Organs, Lungs and Bodily Functions: Healthy Connections, Green Space and the Historical Landscape of the Nineteenth-Century City Park
Karen Jones (University of Kent, UK)
New machinery, factory systems and a burgeoning population made the nineteenth century the age of the city. It also represented the age of the city park. Across Europe and North America, elite spaces were opened to public access and new areas dedicated as 'parks for the people.' This paper offers a brief tour of green spaces across three metropolitan sites - Paris, London and New York – paying particular attention to the medicalised language of emparkment. The idea of parks as 'lungs for the city' is a well-known axiom, but, in fact, rhetorical and conceptual discourse in the period resonated with the idea of the city as a functional and figurative 'body,' a living organism whose welfare was contingent on the healthy circulation of human and non-human actors and the successful prosecution of vital bodily functions. Of particular note is the fact that park planners of the nineteenth century embraced a fundamentally interconnected vision of urban space that incorporated both social and environmental aspects: thus behind apparently nostalgic designs for pre-industrial bucolic greenery lay irrefutably modern approaches to urban planning that presaged twenty and twenty-first century holistic experiments in garden cities and 'living homes.' As such, this paper points to the ways in which park and garden history can provide a useful (tree-lined) avenue to understanding the entangled histories of place and people across myriad cultures and geographies. Moreover, by approaching the park as a historical 'body' - a site of translation, negotiation and transformation – environmental history might usefully inform contemporary issues surrounding health and urban green space.
A Nexus of Unconventional Resource: Uranium and Rare Earth Prospecting in Post-Liberation North Korea 1945-1950
Robert Winstanley-Chesters (University of Leeds, UK)
Pacific Century Ltd.'s announcement in 2013 of a joint venture to exploit North Korea's Rare Earth deposits was demonstrative both of the developmental reality of that nation in contemporary narratives and its terrains' inaccessibility as resource frontier historically. Knowledge of the Korean peninsula's mineral resources extends deep into the record, primarily manifesting at moments of political or military nexus, for example during China's Wei dynasty or the Japanese colonial period 1907 to 1945. This paper examines a moment, using material within the United States National Archives, Record Group 242, in which North Korea's spaces and geographies of mineralogical knowledge and extraction were reconfigured at the behest of a nexus of local, geo-political and ideological interests. Documentary and Cartographic material sourced from Pyongyang's Mining/Resource Ministries and from the pre-Liberation colonial government, during the US Army's occupation of Pyongyang in 1950 allows for new perspectives on these decolonising, revolutionary processes and places. This paper suggests that the nexus of interests and processes which enabled Uranium and Rare Earth extraction at Ch'olsan, North Korea would prove vital for the development of Pyongyang's relationship with nature, historical knowledge(s) and extractive futures as it sought to move from colonial past to imagined Socialist modernity.