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Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1

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Governing the Wild“What if rather than watcher and watched - subject and object - the intersection of hunan and nonhuman was reframed as an encounter? This is not to suggest that there wouldn't be power relations laden in such a meeting, but rather that there would be recognition of both the human and the nonhuman as participants in this dance. Of course, the animals that the ecotourists travel to Yellowstone to see are unfree in some sense, rooted as they are in place by not only the boundaries of the national park but also the human practices that have destroyed their habitats. However, understanding the meeting as an encounter would not deny all the practices that have shaped the lives of both nonhumans and humans alke, such that we arrive at this place and this moment. It wouldn't separate us from them..”

from"Governing the Wild"

Governing the Wild
Ecotours of Power
by Stephanie Rutherford
University of Minnesota Press, 2011

National parks, natural history museums
, nature-based theme parks and nature documentaries not only share information about the environment but also define and regulate our understanding of the natural world. The essays in this volume demonstrate how these cultural institutions tell stories of "nature threatened, managed, and recuperated" to the exclusion of other kinds of tales so that "other ways of encountering nature are rendered unthinkable, other stories unsayable."

American Bison in Yellowstone National Park
American Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Science and Storytelling

"Part of the appeal of An Inconvenient Truth is that it offers the viewer the right way of living, a toehold on a moral way of encountering nature. The film tells us that we are in the grips of a climate crisis and that the responses of the U.S. government and citizenry have been unethical, profligate, and self-interested. Here (Al) Gore stands as the paragon, deploying the affective dimensions of nostalgia, fear, citizenship, and nationalism, as well as science and celebrity, to tell the story of environmental declension and crisis. But in the narration of this crisis, with its images of polar bears drowning, New York City and Kolkata engulfed by the ocean, and scenes of mountains laid bare, denuded of their glaciers, Gore offers the potential for redemption, both for individuals and as part of a national and global citizenry.

"Al Gore's interweaving of science and storytelling is one way to narrate environmental crisis, and a potent one to be sure. But what other stories can we tell, that might give attention to justice for both humans and nonhumans? "

An Inconvenient Truth

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