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Anatomy of a Conflict

Identity, Knowledge, and Emotion in Old-Growth Forests

Anatomy of a Conflict explores the cultural aspects of the fierce dispute between activist loggers and environmentalists over the fate of Oregon’s temperate rain forest. Centred on the practice of old-growth logging and the survival of the northern spotted owl, the conflict has lead to the burning down of ranger stations, the spiking of trees, logging truck blockades, and countless demonstrations and arrests. Satterfield shows how the debate about the forest is, at its core, a debate about the cultural make-up of the Pacific Northwest. To talk about forests is to talk about culture, whether the discussion is about scientific explanations of conifer forests, activists’ grassroots status and their emotional attachment to land, or the implications of past people’s land use for future forest management. An engaging ethnographic study, this book emphasizes the historical roots and contemporary emergence of identity movements as a means for challenging cultural patterns. It makes a significant contribution to culture- and identity-driven theories of human action in the context of social movements and environmental studies.

208 pages

Table of Contents


Notes on Names and Methods


1 Introduction: A Cultural Dialogue about Old-Growth Forests

2 The Cycle of History: Public Lands, Forest Health, and Activist Histories in the American West

3 Disturbances in the Field and the Defining of Social Movements

4 Negotiating Agency in the Quest for Grassroots Legitimacy

5 Voodoo Science and Common Sense

6 Theorizing Culture: Defining the Past and Imagining the Possible

7 Irrational Actors: Emotions, Ethics, and the Ecocentred Self

8 Concluding Discussion: The Triangular Shape of Cultural Production




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