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Reclaiming the Mountains: A Lefebvrian analysis of national park space during a federal shutdown

Sweatt, Patrick Solano (2021) Reclaiming the Mountains: A Lefebvrian analysis of national park space during a federal shutdown. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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National park space is intrinsically tied to the stability of the nations in which it is established. In December 2018, the federal government of the United States began a 35-day partial shutdown, destaffing national parks across the country in a de facto governance lapse. This study uses a political ecological analysis to examine how instability in the federal government allowed space to be reappropriated by different environmental agents in Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the 2018-2019 partial shutdown. Interviews with park staff, community members, adjacent governmental institutions and non-profits were conducted and revealed a novel set of relationships between human and non-human actors and how governance failures contributed to the production of new social and physical landscapes. As federal authority waned during the 35 days that the park was left open but unattended, volunteer stewardship of some areas of the park was undertaken by local communities and non-profits while wildlife freed from human oversight remade the landscape to meet its own needs. Moreover, a pervasive normative reality led the park to be reinterpreted in a manner inconsistent with its status as a federal monument and historical inequalities were reproduced in the communities surrounding the park. This study ultimately situates the shutdown in Great Smoky Mountains National Park within a wider historical context to examine how destabilizing governance failures at the highest levels of the United States government intersect with the material history of the park, revealing novel social interactions and new reproductions of old disparities.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Great Smoky Mountain National Park; National parks and reserves; National Park Service; Park management; Wildlife
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Geography, Planning and Recreation
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 16:23
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2022 08:30
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5823

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