‘Placing Nature’: The Politics of Collaboration and Representation in the Struggle for La Sierra in San Luis, Colorado

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Department 1

Environmental Studies


Collaboration among rural communities and resource management agencies represents an increasing trend in US public lands management and conflict resolution. This paper examines the failed effort of the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant Commission to resolve a dispute over local land-use rights in San Luis, Colorado. The Commission’s proposal to purchase the land on behalf of the state and restore historical usufruct rights was hindered by a conceptual framework reflecting colonialist socio-environmental relations. The conceptual incongruence between this framework and the ‘alternative’ environmental values and perspectives the Commission sought to accommodate produced tensions and inconsistencies in the Commission’s attempt to justify the proposal. These tensions are expressed through the dialectical representations of nature and place. Presentations of place serve simultaneously to divide ‘nature’ from ‘society’ and attach externalized values and meanings to ‘nature’ as part of a place identity. In this way, nature becomes ‘placed.’


Original version is available from the publisher at: http://cgj.sagepub.com/content/6/1/1.abstract



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