RESPLENDENT MOUNTAINS SHROUDED IN OPPRESSION: THE EXCLUSIVE SPACE OF COLORADO WILDERNESS by LANA KIANA GARCIA B.A., University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, 2007 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Humanities Humanities Program 2018
ii 2018 LANA KIANA GARCIA ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
iii This thesis for the Master of Humanities degree by Lana Kiana GarcÂ’a has been approved for the Department of Humanities by Margaret Woodhull, Chair David Hildebrand Lucy McGuffey Date: May 12, 2018
iv GarcÂ’a, Lana Kiana (MH, Humanities Program) Resplendent Mountains Shrouded in Oppression: The Exclusive Space of the Colorado Wilderness Thesis directed by Assistant Professor Margaret Woodhull ABSTRACT Colorado wilderness is commonly conceived of as a place of pleasurable recreation where individuals can experience peace and freedom in a natural environment. B oth the "Received Wilderness Idea" created primarily in the 19th century by Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir and the "Wilderness Act of 1964" establish this notion of wilderness. Although wilderness is seemingly open to everyone, wilderness visitors are ove rwhelmingly white and affluent. Scholars generally trace the inequity of wilderness to the colon ial construction of a d ualistic concept of wilderness and to the empty land doctrine. This study explicates how the c oncept of wilderness was formed and how t he concept empowers racially and economically privileged individuals. The purpose of this thesis, however, is to go beyond the formation of wilderness to explore why wilderness remains extremely racially exclusive. This study asserts that to fully illumi nate the concept of wilderness, its particular way of hiding social dynamics must be examined. Therefore, wilderness is situated within Henri Lefebvre's spatial framework. White epistemological bias is also illuminated, as is the way racism works to uphold American upper class economic power. The problematic intersection of a nature humanity dualism with socio economic inequality, which contributes to the space of wilderness, also illuminates the link between environmental and social (in)justice. This thesi s argues that it is
v the interconnection between these various factors constructions of place and identity, the colonial construct of empty land, spatial and epistemological concealment, and the relationship between race and class that maintains the exc lusive space of wilderness. This study utilizes interdisciplinary methodology to show that it is the integration of several nefarious and racially motivated concepts of concealment that make wilderness inequitable. A social justice etho s informs this stu dy. Critical T heory and philosophical analysis are employed to provide a social constructionist and epistemological critique. Additionally, a Coda (Chapter VI) is included in this thesis in order to honor the embodied aspect of wilderness experience, and t o offer an ontological means of conceptualizing wilderness as a more inclusive space. It is suggested that the ambiguous and mysterious concept of "wildness" might be used to inform a new notion of wilderness. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Margaret Woodhull
vi DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to my sister, Tania Paloma GarcÂ’a who shares my love of traversing the earth, and a commitment to recognizing and examining sites of strife. I'm grateful that our world travels and academic adventures have placed us on a mutual path of sisterly love and companionship.
vii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my thesis committee members David Hildebrand and Lucy McGuffey for their sustained support during my thesis writing process. I would also especially like to thank my committee chair Margaret Woodhull for her guidance throughout the whole of my Master's program journey. My evolution as a scholar has been greatly aided by her encouragement to strive for theoretical and methodological clarity. I would like to thank my friend and colleague Lindsay M. Miller for being my constant a cademic interlocutor. Her insightful criticism has been instrumental to my scholarship and teaching evolution. Finally, I would like to thank my both parents, Professors Reyes GarcÂ’a and Susan Scarberry GarcÂ’a, and my partner, Michael Thomas, for their nev er ending love and encouragement.
viii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION (Wilderness as a Source of Pleasure).............................................1 Statement of the Research Project ................................................................................3 Thesis Statement............................................................................................................8 Research Methodology and Theoretical Statement .......................................................8 II. WILDERNESS AS A SOCIAL PLACE.....................................................................11 Recreation and Tourism............................................................. ..................................11 Approaches to Wilderness as Place..............................................................................13 Humanism............................................................... ..........................................16 Radical Geography............................................................... ............................19 Identity and Place Making........................................ ...................................................19 Conclusion..................................................................................... ..............................25 III. WILDERNESS AS A SHIFTING CONCEPT AND PLACE OF CONQUEST................................................................................................................26 Towards a Definition of Wilderness............................................................................26 The Wilderness Act of 1964........................................................................................26 The Foundations of the Received Wilderness Idea......................................................35 Colonialism: The Removal and Erasure of Indigenous Populations...........................37 Settlement in Colorado................................................................................................40 An Urbanite and Nationalistic Constru ction of Wilderness.......... ..............................43 The Received Wilderness Idea.....................................................................................47 Stegner: A Bridge Between Theory and Law.......................... ...................................48
ix The Received Wilderness Idea: Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir....................................50 A Critique of the Received Wilderness Idea.......................................................... ......56 Aesthetic Transcendence Versus Labor and Native American Presence... .....61 Intellectual Wilderness Appreciation ...............................................................66 Lyrical Descriptions and Ecological Conservation ............... ...........................69 Conclusion................................................................................................................... 71 IV. DELETERIOUS DUALISM, EPISTEMOLOGICAL BIAS, AND SPATIAL CONCEALMENT.......................................................................................................74 Dualism within the Received Wilderness Idea............................................................74 Natur e and Civilization....................................................................................75 Purity and Dirtiness, White and Dark Bodies..................................................80 Critical Interruptions: African American Wilderness Perspectives.............................86 Racialized Epistemology and Intentional Invisibility..................................................91 Lefebvre's Spatial Theory: An Unmasking of the Spatial Privilege of Wilderness.....94 Place Versus Spac e..........................................................................................95 The Application of Lefebvre's Spatial Triad to Wilderness............................96 Conclusion............................................................ .....................................................102 V. ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENT......................................................................................................104 Introduction: Spatial Privilege...................................................................................104 Uneven Development.................................................................................................104 Environmental Justice.................. ..............................................................................106 Environmental Racism.................................................................... ...........................108
x First Wave Eco Criticism's Failure to See............ .....................................................108 Wilderness, the Invisibility of Privilege, and White Supremacy...............................111 Herrenvolk and the White Hegemonic Alliance ......................................................... 114 Class Conflict and Wilderness: Work Versus Play....................................................117 Social and Environmental Justice: Dismantling Nature Humanity Dualism............123 Conclusion.................................................................................................................126 VI. CODA: THE MYSTERY AND UBIQUITY OF WILDNESS.................................128 Wilderness Versus Wildness: The Indefinite Re alm of Descriptive Writing............132 Embodiment and Transcendence of Social Constructionism....................................138 Encounters with Enigmatic Wildness within Wilderness..........................................141 Two Iterations of N ature: First Versus Second Wave Romanticism.........................146 Wildness Beyond Wilderness....................................................................................147 Conclusion.......................................................... .......................................................149 VII. CONCLUSION (Wilderness Defined)......................................................................151 BIBLIOGRAPHY..................................................................................... .............................15 5
1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION: WILDERNESS AS A SOURCE OF PLEASURE When I think of my home state of Colorado, the first image evok ed is of a high altitude spruce and fir forest framed by mountain peaks. I am briefly transported to a memory of hiking. Sometimes I recall a late morning approach to Missouri Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness, about 30 miles west of Vail. Soft orange lig ht gives w ay to yellow blue afternoon sun beams that illuminate the roots and rocks of the trail. I cross a stream, strategically hopping from one slick rock to another. The trees thin out revealing soaring jagged rock faces in the distance. I feel a quiet thrill as I glimpse the leading edge of a turquoise gray alpine lake. Clumps of Indian paint brush flowers line the shore. Their petals are reddish, similar to the sandstone hue that evoked the name "Colorado" for Spaniards before this region would become a U.S. state in 1876. The space of the wilderness infuses the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual space of my body and mind. I have an experience of immersion in the vast natural world and feel an intrinsic connection to the land. An exuberant awareness that my small human presence is far exceeded by the expansiveness of nature, coupled with my bond to that which is not human, creates the sense that my best genuine self is thriving. The thought of Colorado is linked to the pleasure of explori ng mountainous wilderness, an activity which is aligned with my identity as a Coloradan. Although hiking in the mountains, and outdoor recreation in general, is not favored by everyone, I have often wondered why many Coloradans who live near wilderness a reas do not access them. To raise this question of why some Coloradans enjoy experiencing wilderness while others do not opens an inquiry into the concept of "wilderness" and reveals
2 my own privileged positionality. I have found that the concept of the spa ce of wilderness as an uncomplicated and "freeing" place for contemplation and positive meaning primarily arises from being environmentally, racially, and economically privileged ; this perspective takes no heed of the true complexity of wilderness space wh ich has I will argue, been largely constructed to benefit some and exclude others. My former assumption that wilderness is an uncomplicated socially neutral space seems to be representative of the dominant American conception of wilderness. This claim i s substantiated in this study with evi dence from historic and present day wilderness scholarship. This evidence shows that wilderness is usually considered an a priori condition of the earth as it was before it was spoiled by human influence; all the land that lays outside of wilderness boundaries is domesticated, while the land within retains its primordial essence. Wilderness spaces are thus largely immune from social structures that are imposed everywhere else. Visitors certainly retain their sense of so cial propriety when encountering each other and recognize that federal laws dictate the uses of wilderness, but there is also the belief that the environment largely transcends societal influence. Wilderness is chiefly considered to be a physical place. Li ttle thought is given to wilderness as a human concept. Even less is given to the consequences of failing to recognize how the concept of wilderness a ffects wilderness space and the earth as a whole. This study explores how the common equation of Colorado 's wilderness spaces with places of pleasure, which are empty of social histories and dynamics, blinds wilderness visitors to the ways that wilderness as a place and a concept causes social and environmental harm. As Valerie Malhorta Bentz and Jeremy J Shapiro point out in Mindful Inquiry in Social Research our current historic context is defined by factors including the
3 ecological crisis of climate change, an upsurge of marginalized groups demanding their rights, and a globalized economy that is enth ralled with information technology. 1 Analyzing the exclusivity of wilderness directly addresses these timely subjects by revealing how wilderness is a complex construct that, in opposition to its common understanding, is deeply interconnected with social i ssues. Thus, an interdisciplinary critique of wilderness that is informed by Critical T heory and a social justice ethos is a nec essary method for conducting thi s study. This approach will show that unveiling the social construction of wilderness and its spatial exclusivity provides a valuable perspective for understanding the relationship between environmental sustainability and social justice. Statement of the Research Project According to the United States Forest Service, 95.4% of national wilderness visitors are white, 58.4% of visitors are male, and 62% of visitors have a household income of $75,000 or more, which is above the U.S. national median income. 2 3 These statistics signal that those who enter the wilderness are overwhelmingly white, slightl y more likely to be male than female, and more affluent than the average American. The typical profile of a wilderness visitor is of someone who is white, male and affluent, and who thus conforms with the identity of an individual who has the most privileg e, or unearned advantage, within the U.S socioeconomic system. While each set of visitor data indicates a discrepancy between wilderness visitor demographics and general United States demographics, racial 1 Valerie Malhorta Bentz and Jeremy J. Shapiro, Mindful Inquiry in Social Research (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 1998), 16 18. 2 This data covers the period from 2011 2015. 3 United States Forest Service, National Visitor Use Monitoring Survey Results U.S. Forest Service National Summary Report ," https://www.fs.fe d.us/recreation/programs /nvum/pdf/508pdf 2015_National_Summary_Report.pdf, Accessed 8 March 2017.
4 representation is clearly the most disparate 4 By l aw, everyone is welcome to enter wilderness areas and, although one must have a certain amount of disposable income and free time to reach and enter wilderness, most wilderness activities are relatively inexpensive. Given these facts, this thesis investiga tes why contemporary American wilderness areas are a privileged and primarily white space. Particular attention is placed on Colorado's wildernes s due to my familiarity with it and my belief that it is important to engage with one's own locality. Wilderne ss space is a physical place freighted with conceptual and symbolic meaning. The central claim of this thesis is that wilderness is an exclusionary space, particularly in relation to race. An assumption underlying this claim is that social inequality, oppr ession, and exclusionary practices exist and that they ought to be examined and eliminated. This transformativ e social justice oriented world view places the examination of wilderness exclusivity within a framework that analyze s how the demographic disparit y in wilderness areas is linked to issues of power and politics. It assumes that wilderness practices are imbued with cultural meaning that is, to a large extent, constructed in relation to one's social and historic positionality within American society. W ilderness demographics indicate that those who are privileged based on their race, gender, and economic power are most likely to value wilderness enough to visit it. The value of wilderness can be assessed by the benefits it provides. Wilderness visits are commonly understood to provide physical exercise, contemplative solitude, an immersion in nature, a respite from urban life, and oftentimes transcendent or spiritual experiences. I echo Derek Christopher Martin's qualification in so far as I do not asser t that wilderness visits are "superior to any other type of leisure behavior, 4 The most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, collected in 2010, states that those who identify solely as white compose 63.7% of the population.
5 nor that there is anything deficient about someone who chooses not to participate in outdoor recreation." 5 However, demographics sugg est that people of color do not value supposed wilderness benefits, do not think that wilderness offers these benefits, or do not have de facto access to wilderness which would make them feel comfortable in the space. The last two of these possibilities is explored through a lens where the meaningfulness of wilderness and personal identification with a wilderness subculture that accesses and values wilderness is examined in relation to American power structures which inherently exclude certain population groups. This study con tends that the spatial practice of wilderness visitors is informed not only by phenomenological experiences of immersion in wilderness, but also by the meaning visitors associate with the concept of wilderness. My research examines how the concept of wilde rness was historically and philosophically constructed. This examination begins with E uropean colonizers who removed N ative peoples from land that would become part of the United States. It explores how genocidal practices created the colonialist construct of empty land that undergirds dominant contemporary understandings of wilderness areas. It asks how the canon of American nature writers such as John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and Wallace Stegner created the commonly called Received Wilde rness Idea (RWI). This idea proclaims that wilderness is untouched by humans and is a domain that is separate from society. It is a physical space solely affected by natura l environmental processes. The Received Wilderness I dea is based upon the construct of empty land, which provides the justification for the claim that wilderness is a socially neutral place. This 5 Derek Christopher Martin, "Apartheid in the Great Outdoors: American Advertising and the Reproduction of a Racialized Outdoor Leisure Identity," Journal of Leisure Research 36, no. 4 (Fall 2004) : 531.
6 neutrality sets wilderness apart from all other places and imbues it with an exalted significance. Ironically, as I shall demonstrate, this conc eption creates a specific social meaning for wilderness so that it can be understood to be an exalted landscape that white males with leisure time can enter and have character building experiences that are not possible in "civilized" places. In the 1990 s, wilderness scholarship emerged that began to critique the Received Wilderness Idea and its claims about the neutrality of wilderness. In "Rethinking Wilderness: The Need for a New Idea of Wilderness," Michael P. Nelson summarizes the primary flaws with the received concept of wilderness. He writes that the concept, "is not universalizable, it is ethnocentric, it is ecologically naive, it separates humans from nature, and its referent is nonexistent." 6 I build upon the work of eco critics such as William Cronon and Guha Ramachandra who expose the particularly American underpinnings of the concept of wilderness. Philosophical critiques of nature that expose the false separation between nature and culture are incorporated into this study so t hat the logical fallacy of the R eceived Wilderness Idea is exposed. Moreover, I exhibit how contemporary wilderness critiques do not sufficiently explain how and why contemporary understandings of the meaning of wilderness remain grounded in the construct of empty land an d the concept of the Received Wilderness Idea. I therefore draw upon Henri Lefebvre's concept of space to argue that common understandings of space function to conceal the history of colonial wilderness creation so that this symbolic weight is not felt or understood by those who are privileged. Critical Whiteness Studies literature is also used to account for why the majority of wilderness scholarship rarely incorporates the factor of race into critiques of the Received 6 Michael P. Nelson, "Rethinking Wilderness: The Ne ed for a New Idea of Wilderness," Philosophy in the Contemporary World, 3, no. 2 (Summer 1996) : 6.
7 Wilderness I dea. Focus is placed on t heories that articulate how the white race and white epistemology masquerade as representing the human norm so that white ways of experiencing wilderness and white concepts of wilderness seemingly represent the only way of understanding wilderness. I hope to prove that this problematic and archaic concept of wilderness functions to uphold wilderness visitor demographic disparity so that wilderness remains a privileged and exclusionary space. Accordingly, the following questions will be asked: How does the construction of wilderness as place relate to social identity within the context of U.S. socio economic power structures? ( Chapter II). How did the colonial construct of empty land arise and aid the creation of the philosophical and legal concept of wilde rness? (Chapter III). How do concepts of space function to conceal the exclusivity of wilderness as a white space and the history of its construction as such? (Chapter IV) What are the consequences of the construction of wilderness as an exclusive space in regard to social inequality and its connection to global environmental destruction? (Chapter V). Finally, how might philosophical accounts of wildness, and particularly Maurice Merleau Ponty's phenomenological account of "wild being contribute to an a lternative concept of wilderness which promotes racial and inclusivity? (Chapter VI). My three primary goals of this study are : (1) to synthesize interdisciplinary literature on the concept of wi lderness; (2) to critique the Received Wilderness I dea through a new combination of lenses which include philosophical spatial analysis and a Critical Whiteness S tudies perspective; and (3) to suggest a new ontological approach to conceptualizing wilderness that is rooted in a concept of wildness and nature a s resistance and Merleau Ponty's notion of "wild being" as a liminal reality that humans are neither separate from, nor
8 fully fused with; this approach has the possibility of dismantling the exclusive space of wilderness. The significance of this thesis is its critical analysis of American wilderness and the ways it upholds injustices within the United States social structure. Moreover, this study has the potential to contribute to a theoretical understanding of wilderness that m a y serve as a means for informing socially just wilderness practices. Thesis Statement This thesis argues that it is the integration of multiple nefarious and racially motivated concepts of concealment that maintains the exclusive and inequitable space of Colorado wilderness. These concepts include constructions of place and identity, the colonial construct of empty land, space and epistemology, and the relationship between race and class. Research Methodology and Theoretical Statement This thesis utiliz es an interdisciplinary and qualitative methodology to produce a holistic discourse critiquing wilderness and wilderness culture. Written texts are gathered from numerous discipl ines and newer fields, such as Environmental S tudies, which are inherently int erdisciplinary themselves. This study of the construction of wilderness draws upon models of inquiry and analysis in the disciplines of philosophy, geography, and history, and upon environmental, post colonialism, critical race, and critical whiteness stud ies. Wilderness is both a physical space and a complex concept. It cannot be adequately understood without analyzing it from multiple disciplines and emerging fields of scholarship. A qualitative methodological approach signals that this thesis analyzes te xts through logical interpretation which places emphasis on the ways that wilderness is meaningful to various
9 social groups. A general philosophical methodology is used to distinguish among concepts and to examine writing through logical contemplative and argumentative methods. This interdisciplinary methodological approach is informed by theories of interdisciplinarity which hold that interdisciplinary scholarship necessarily questions how traditional academic disciplines produce dogmatic knowledge which sustain s certain forms of power. Allen F. Repko explains: "Studies programs in general represent fundamental challenges to the existing structures of knowledge." 7 This thesis integrates textual analysis from environmental, post colonial, critical race, an d critical whiteness studies which elucidate wilderness th eories that critique disciplinary wilderness scholarship for its lack of attention to race and white supremacist ideology. Accordingly, a transformative epistemological framework which explicitly po ints to the non neutrality of knowledge guides this work. A transformative world view grounds the central claim of this study. That claim is that wilderness is constructed as an exclusionary space. This theoretical perspective holds that inequality and op pression exist, that race, class, and gender influence human experience and the production of knowledge, and that all research involves issues of power and politics. According to John W. Creswell, this perspective asserts that research should be engaged wi th a social justice agenda that analyzes issues of power and works towards eliminating oppression. 8 Many of the texts that this thesis employs to critique the concept of wilderness are informed by theories that question the control and production of knowle dge within 7 Allen F. Repko, Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory 2 nd ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2012), 9. 8 John W. Creswell, Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 4 th ed. (Los Angeles: Sage, 2014), 9.
10 racialized discourses. Charles W. Mills' "White Ignorance," for example, illustrates how white racial knowledge is (mis)constructed as universal knowledge. The theory that the production of knowledge is related to the operation of power and po litical interests is an underlying as sumption of this thesis. Thus, Critical T heory provides the transformative framework of this study so that it can reveal as Repko states, "interpretations of what we perceive are filtered through a web of values, expec tations, and vocabularies that influence understanding." 9 This thesis assumes that individual interpretations of the meaning and value of wilderness are informed by one's social and historic positionality. This social constructionist perspective also holds that one's relationship to wilderness as a place and concept is mediated by one's social milieu. The final section of the thesis engages with phenomenological theory which privileges embodied subjective experience and interpretation. I suggest that whil e the majority of experience is filtered through a socio historic lens, there is an element of experience that cannot be reduced to the social construction of reality. Phenomenological interpretation s conflict with critical and transformative perspectives, but does not fully discount them. The goal of this thesis is to use interdisciplinary methodology and theory which yields a philosophical conceptual analysis that presents a logically consistent argument about the concept and space of wilderness, and whi ch incorporates various forms of transformative theoretical models at different stages. The underlying social justice goal is to develop a wilderness theory that has the potential to influence wilderness praxis is such a way that the exclusivity of wildern ess space can be dismantled. 9 Allen F. Repko, Interdisciplinary Research: Process and Theory 118.
11 CHAPTER II WILDERNESS AS A SOCIAL PLACE Recreation and Tourism My examination of the exclusivity of wilderness begins with an account of its connection to place and identity for two reasons. First, Colorado wilderness is comm only considered a place, and not a concept or a particular construction of space. The characterization of wilderness as a place of leisure highlights its harmless or beneficial facets while shielding how its meaning and use is constructed and perpetuated. Although the concept of place is meaningful and worthy of study, Chapter IV will explain how common conceptions of place and empty space serve to undermine a comprehensive understanding of space which can reveal how all locations on earth are enshrined in power dynamics. Second, it is necessary to grasp how place and identity mut ually construct each other in order to understand how wilderness as a concept and place gains its power. Place and identity are preeminently meaningful concepts. Americans have deep attachments to places and pride in who they deem themselves to be. The "se lf expressive functions of leisure and the pursuit of 'self affirmation,'" as Daniel R. W illiams and J oseph G. Champ write, cannot be underestimated. 10 Leisure time spent in wilderness is not meaningless play. It is, to a large degree, representative of the value system of a segment of those who are most privileged in U.S. society. It tells the story of which Americans have power and essentially more freedom and how this segment of the population came to have it. 10 Williams, Daniel R. and Joseph G. Champ, "Performing Leisure, Making Place: Wilderness Identity a nd Representation in Online Trip Reports," in Landscapes of Leisure: Space, Place and Identities ed. Sean Gammon and Sam Elkington (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 221.
12 The dominant contemporary American narr ative of Colorado wilderness is that it is a place of pleasurable recreation. The high country of the mountains regions of Colorado has a mass appeal and has come to represent the whole state of Colorado for many around the world, and especially for touris ts. Carol Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson, and Duane A. Smith write that the high country "blessed with natural resources from precious metals to snow, and scenery symbolizes the Colorado promotion poster." 11 This perspective that emphasizes the landscape's attraction is echoed in Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country where William Philpott describes the Colorado high country as a "vacationland." 12 Philpott's term encompasses the resorts along the I 70 corridor in Colorado, but als o includes wilderness activities in his definition. A "vacationland" is described as a place where, we buy into the efforts to brand and link it to escapist and other exciting consumerist fantasies We are asserting that this landscape finds its hig hest worth in being pretty to look at or nice to play in I mean to suggest that the true significance of tourist development lies in the new kinds of landscapes it has created and the new environmental values and outdoor oriented living patt erns it has instilled. 13 Philpott's focus on the recent increased marketing of Colorado's high country highlights the influx of tourism in Colorado and the continued desirability of wilderness experiences which involve leisure and aesthetic appreciation. Evolving communication technology, including the popularity of social media platforms, amplifies and diversifies marketing techniques. However, the claim that contemporary branding creates "new kinds of landscapes" is an exaggeration. Although Philpott's c oncentration is on tourism from the mid twentieth century 11 Carol Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson, and Duane A. Smith, A Colorado History 7 th ed. ( Boulder: Pruett Publishing Company, 1995), xiii. 12 William Philpott, Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013), 22. 13 Ibid.
13 to the present day, his historical account is skewed because it does not adequately link tourism to broader American constructions of nature and wilderness. Philpott argues that the Colorado high c ountry has been socially constructed to be a place for leisure, but neglects to consider that America's wilderness, which is instrumental in Colorado's high country appeal, has always been linked to benefiting the leisure tastes of privileged Americans. Ph ilpott concedes that "place making helped create a new kind of environmental consciousness. For a great many consumers, nature came to stand for pleasure and personal fulfillment Yet it is too simple to call these the new environmental values [since] not all Americans had equal access to the packaged places and experiences that gave rise to these values." 14 Philpott's acknowledgement that, presumably, class and race play a factor in forming environmental values is welcomed; however, what is not said is that lack of access is not merely a result of being non privileged, but that a cause of that lack of access is as I will show, the very concept of wilderness which functions to maintain the exclusivity of wilderness places. Approaches to Wild erness as a Place Tourism marketing explicitly creates "packaged places" so that certain locations become associated with particular values and activities. Most people have a general idea of what a "place" is and what specific places mean to them. Accordi ng to both Tim Cresswell and Phillip M. Mullins, respectively, a "sense of place" is the way that people emotionally relate to and understand specific environments. 15 People's connections to places are often considered subjective. Humanist perspectives on t he meaning of place, developed initially by 14 Ibid, 302. 15 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 7; Phillip M. Mullins, "Living Stories of the Landscap e: Perception of Place through Canoeing in Canada's North, Tourism Geographies 11, no. 2 (May 2009) : 236.
14 Edward Relph and Yi Fu Tuan, focus on place as a way of being in the world and are informed by phenomenology and existentialism; they also are sensitive to emotional response. 16 Tuan focuses on the human experienc e of place. He argues that a social science analysis of culture is not sufficient to explain the meaning of place. He writes: "This approach is valid, but it overlooks the problem of shared traits that transcend cultural particularities and may therefore r eflect the general human condition." 17 General theories of the human experience of place help to describe and illuminate many aspects of place. Yet, the search for universal theories does not adequately account for a full understanding of place. Cresswell w rites that "place is not just a thing in the world but a way of understanding the world." 18 The immense influence that places have on our lives and cognitions signal that it is also important to understand place from a radical geography point of view which recognizes that "places are constructed as reflections of power." 19 There is a divide in p lace studies between humanist (phenomenological ) approaches radical geography (social constructionist approaches), and regional geography (descriptive) perspectives. I suggest that analyzing the Colorado wilderness requires each of these approaches and pe rspectives. Therefore, following Cresswell, place can be defined as a discrete location "invested with meaning in the context of power." 20 A social constructionist approach to examining the place of wilderness is most effective for much of this study since its focus is the inclusion and exclusion of social groups in wilderness in addition to the concept of wilderness. Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose explain 16 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduct ion 20. 17 Yi Fu Tuan, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience ( Minneapolis: University of Mi nnesota Press, 1977), 5. 18 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction 11. 19 Ibid, 50. 20 Ibid, 12.
15 that "soci al construction theory rejects the longstanding view that some categories are 'natural,' bearing no tra ce of human intervention [T[ he objective is not to expose the falseness of constructs but rather to expose the falseness of our unquestioning accep tance of these constructs." 21 Places may seem to produce intimate subjective emotions, but these emotions are connected to place meanings that have been socially constructed. Likewise, race is, of course, a social category that humans have constructed for p olitical purposes. In Chapters IV and V, Critical Race Theory and C ritica l Whiteness S tudies will be utilized to account for why wilderne ss space is not racially diverse Here, however, I would like to frame my discussion by pointing to th e social construc tion of "nature" itself and by extension wilderness since the concept of nature is perhaps the most foundational concept in which "naturalness" remains unquestioned. Wilderness places are considered natural an interpretation which generally function s to conceal the power relations embedded in wilderness space. The bulk of this thesis will address the ways that wilderness has been constructed as a concept and how power is intertwined within the concept and space of wilderness. However, the conclusio n of this thesis will engage with a phenomenological inquiry into the "wild" aspect of wilderness so that all of "nature" and our being in the world is not erroneously reduced to a purely socially constructed concept. I will show that pairing a social cons tructionist critique with an eco logical phenomenological critique of dominant conceptio ns of wilderness and nature is necessary for providing an ontologic ally sound avenue to understanding the draw of wilderness, and to reconceive of wilderness as a social ly 21 Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose, "Introduction: Placing 'Race' and Nation," in Constructions of Race, Place, and Nation ed. Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose (London: University College London, 1993), 2 3.
16 inclusive place. Ultimately, I seek to analyze the construction of the concept of wilderness while also being mindful not to reduce our connection with our wild lived in planet solely to the cognitive realm. My contention is that wilderness is construct ed, but wildness within wilderness and elsewhere cannot be fully bound by human concepts. Humanism On one hand, a humanist approach to place recognizes that our human connection to wilderness landscapes exceeds social construction and learned cognitive b eliefs such as who belongs in wilderness and who does not. David Abram writes: "There is something eerie about the ability of the written word to shrink the elemental power of place It is the influence of the verbal mind in ceaseless conversation wit h itself, dialoguing with its own symbols. The scattered bushes and shadowed cliffs have no real part in this." 22 The danger of adhering purely to social constru ctionist frameworks is that we reduce the reality and experience of our ontological ways of bein g in the world to human concepts and language which undermine the complexity and depth of our connection to our planet. Universal love for wilderness is unnecessary, but the cultivation of mass respect for our planet's ecosystem is crucially required for the well being of our species in this age of climate change. To claim that a transcendent connection with the wildness of our planet is baseless or unnecessary is ontologically suspect and pragmatically dangerous. Furthermore, social constructionism can be considered ethno ce ntric and does not accommodate Indigenous and other world views which hold that humans are i ntimately linked to spiritually imbued places. For example, the Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya writes: 22 David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (New York: Pantheon Books, 2010 ), 262 263.
17 "By sense of place I mean the 'spirit of p lace' We in the Southwest know that every area is inhabited by the spirits of place, so the story cannot be separated from the spiritus loci." 23 The spirit s of place s are known by learning oral traditions stories, and the many histories of places. Fo r authors like Anaya, one cannot know himself or his peoples if one does not understand place on a s piritual level. Barry Lopez describes the interconnection between the land, storytelling and well being. He writes: "The purpose of storytelling is to achie ve harmony between the two [exterior and interior] landscapes Inherent in story is the power to reorder a state of psychological confusion through contact with the pervasive truth of those relationships we call 'the land.'" 24 Particular landscapes or places have a type of agency. Land is a ffected by human actions while als o having internal power. Human well being is dependent upon an understanding of the land and the events that have occurred there. This process of understanding provides a spiritual co nnection to place. The spirituality of the place of wilderness is written about from a Eurocentric perspective by the canon of American wilderness writers which includes Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir. Thoreau and Muir build upon Emerson's transcendental philosophy. Transcendentalism holds that "a correspondence of parallelism exist[s] between the higher realm of spiritual truth and the lower one of material objects," according to Roderick Nash. 25 The material world, and particularl y wilderness, reflects the spiritual realm of Truth, so that human encounters with unmodified nature bring us closer to God and the interworking s of the universe. The lineage of this line of thinking I contend, 23 Rudolfo Anaya, "The Sprit of Place," in The Essays (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), 151. 24 Barry Lopez, "Landscape and Narrative," in Crossing Open Ground (New York: Vintage, 1978), 68. 25 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the Ame rican Mind 3 rd ed. (New Haven : Yale University Press, 1982), 85.
18 stems from Plato's Idealism and hi s Theory of F orms. Transcendentalism and lyrically descriptive accounts of nature are the bedrocks of the writing of Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir. As I will argue these writers continue to inform the dominant contemporary meaning of wilderness, illustrating how spi ritual, emotive, and phenomenological descriptions of wilderness places resonate with Americans. This insight, first, signals that poetic or humanist descriptions of wilderness may reach an ontological truth about our human connection to wild places that is beyond the reach of social constructionist methodology. Second, since the canon of wilderness writers use phenomenology to create the common understanding of wilderness, it is my s uggestion that phenomenology be utilized to determine what might remain a ccurate and of value in the c ommon conception of wilderness and what might be reconceived on phenomenological grounds. Chapter VI of this thesis will return to a phenomenological approach to understanding wilderness. It will acknowledge the ambiguity of ou r relationship with the "wild" element in wilderness which cannot be fully reduced to social construction. It will show that the exclusivity of wilderness can best be dismantled when we recognize that, as Jackson and Penrose write: "place represents both a context for action and a source of identity, poised precariously 'in between' subjective and objective realities." 26 This passage, based on Nicholas Entrikin's ideas, captures the complexity of place, neither dismissing deeply personal emot ional experience s of wilderness nor the ways that it is socially constructed. Now, however, I will return to the radical geography approach to place studies. 26 Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose, "Introduction: Placing 'Race' and Nation," 12.
19 Radical Geography On a basic level, our being in the world, our being in place, is a ffected by language which reflects and creates meaning. Abram writes that "there can be no complete abolishment of mediation, no pure and unadulterated access to the real." 27 We enter the world as social creatures and our experience of place is shaped by language, social construct s, and power relations. Radical geographers engage with place from a critical perspective that is "informed by Marxism, fem inism, post structuralism" and Cultural S tudies. 28 They focus on how place making is an inclusive and exclusive process. Radical geographer David Harvey recognizes that place is often personally approached from a humanistic and emotional point of view which obscures power relations. He signals that the me aning of place is always constructed by someone since "the creation of symbolic places is not a given in the stars but painstakingly nurtured and fought over precisely because of the hold that place can have over the imaginary." 29 Sometimes place making is fairly obvious. It may be easy to recognize that the Colorado ski resort buildings along Interstate 70 are modeled after European chalets, for example. Conversely, other places, such as Colorado wilderness, are more difficult to recognize as constructed si nce their construction has been disguised by their seeming "naturalness" or authenticity. Identity and Place Making The concept of wilderness was created and is maintained by place making within the context of power and exclusion. Harvey argues: Placing and the making of places are 27 David Abram, Becom ing Animal: An Earthly Cosmology 264. 28 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction 26 29 Ha rvey, David, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 322.
20 essential to social development, social control, and empowerment in any social order." 30 Chapter III will explain how the concept and place of wilderness was instrumental in creating the development of the United States and mai ntaining white racial privilege. In present times, wilderness remains an exclusive place because social practices reinforce exclusivity on a daily basis. Heidi J. Nast and Steve Pile explain that bodies and places are political entities that interact to cr eate a web of power relations. 31 Most wilderness visitors share similar identities that are shaped by visitors' socio economic positions and leisure tastes. Since statistics show that most of these visitors are empowered members of privileged social groups, their presence in wilderness constructs wilderness as a privileged space. Mullins asserts that the "'outdoors' subculture is predominantly urban or suburban, white, upper middle class and financially stable." 32 Its members are also physically able and phys ically fit. Americans recognize that an amalgamation of these qualities is associated with the image of a typical wilderness visitor. Martin writes: "The outdoor leisure identity is a stereotyped composite of who visits wildland areas, and by extension who belongs there." 33 Privileged wilderness group members seemingly belong in wilderness, and so the values they associate with wilderness reinforce the dominant meaning of wilderness. Colorado mountainous wilderness places are valued for their general lack o f human made structures, their distance from cities, and their ruggedness which must be traversed without machinery. Mullins contends that wilderness enthusiasts have "particular shared 30 Ibid, 265. 31 Heidi J. Nast and Steve Pile, "Introduction: Making Places Bodies," in Places Through the Body ed. Heidi J. and Steve Pile (London: Routledge, 1998), 4. 32 Phillip M. Mullins, "Living Stories of the Landscap e: Perception of Place through Canoeing in Canada's North, 240. 33 Derek Christopher Martin, "Apartheid in the Great Outdoors: American Advertising and the Reproduction of a Racialized Outdoor Leisure Identity," 517.
21 ways of making sense of the world," valuing landscapes where motorize d travel is prohibited, and favoring "non consumptive" activities such as canoeing as opposed to hunting which has more impact on ecosystems. 34 Physically demanding travel and the "leave no trace" mentality are considered authentic and morally responsible ways of interacting with the physical environment. Visitors who prize so called authenticity and environmental responsibility often take pride in their wilderness based value system and link it to their identities. Identity is who we are and where we are placed, literally and symbolically within the world. James D. Fearon explains that the contemporary concept of identity is a recent and complex construct. It is a union of social and personal identity which "refers at the same time to social categories an d to the sources of an individual's self respect or dignity." 35 It has been demonstrated that the identities of wilderness visitors most often align with membership in white racial and upper middle class social categories. I contend that wilderness visitors usually overlook how membership in these privileged social categories contribute to, or give rise to, their wilderness loving identities. Instead, they focus on how they choose to align their personal identities with wilderness culture values. Fearon prop oses that "personal identity is the social category that is most important to a person's way of life. That is, my personal identity is the social identity whose content I am most committed to or motivated by." 36 Since there cannot be a concept of the self w ithout comparison to others within a social framework, personal identity is intertwined with socially constructed values. Yet, personal 34 Phillip M. Mullins, "Living Stories of the Landscap e: Perception of Place through Canoeing in Canada's North, 240. 35 James D Fearon, "What is Identity (As We Now Use the Word)?" Unpublished Draft, Stanford University, 1999, Accessed 10 August 2016, http://www.dl.icdst.org/pdfs/files/8463b6bc956736387be725470f860b43.pdf 2. 36 Ibid, 22.
22 identity is commonly believed to be the result of one's choice and preferences, instead of the placement in social categ ories that is beyond an individual's control. Personal identification with enjoyment of wilderness places therefore overwhelms considerations of why a white person from a wealthy Denver neighborhood, for example, would develop a love for wilderness. Si nce one's conception of her personal identity is linked to her self respect, the stakes are high for maintaining a connection to those things which an individual values. Accordingly, when a wilderness subculture has a shared identity, its members form a s ocial group that collectively works to strengthen that identity. As Jan Penrose and Peter Jackson explain, "the struggle for identity is a struggle for power and always takes place within a hegemonic system of social relations." 37 A self reflective critique of w ilderness associated values, such as this thesis is advancing, could produce a fissure in a wilderness visitor's cherished identity; for example, the knowledge that the creation of wilderness was a means of making landscapes in America white spaces ma y be incompatible with a pride in a seemingly morally pure love of wilderness. Furthermore, the more trips one makes to the wilderness, the more ingrained the place becomes in one's being. One's identity is increasingly linked to the memory of the place of wilderness. Following David Harvey, Cresswell proclaims that the "production of memory in place is no more than an element in the perpetuation of a particular social order that seeks to inscribe some memories at the expense of others." 38 Within the domin ant American imagination, memories of wilderness as a pristine, untouched place for peaceful treks have 37 Jan Penrose and Peter Jackson, "Conclusion: Identity and the Politics of Difference," in Constructions of Race, Place, a nd Nation ed. Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose (London: University College London, 1993), 207. 38 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction 62.
23 overpowered memories of Native American removal from wilderness lands. Institutionalized white supremacy within the United States social structure gives power to personal identities that align with c ommon conceptions of wilderness and undermines identities of those who link wilderness to a place of pain and exclusion. The problem with identifying solely with the morally positive aspects of wilderness is that this perspective erases the cruel history of the creation of wilderness. A purely positive outlook on wilderness leaves little room for entry into the dominant wilderness group for those who have negative associations with wilderness. A strong identi fication with a positive perception of wilderness usually blinds wilderness visitors to other perspectives since the "identification of place usually involves an us/them distinction in which the other is devalued." 39 Although visitors may not consciously ex clude people, their shared identities and view points, coupled with their ubiquitous presence in wilderness, creates a place that is welcoming to some identities and inhospitable to others. Cresswell references Edward Relph who, makes the distinction betw een the experience of insideness and outsideness in the human experience of place. 'To be inside a place is to belong to it and identify with it, and the more profoundly inside you are the stronger is the identity with the place' When something o r someone has been judged to be 'out of place' they have committed a transgression The line that is crossed is often a geographical line and a socio cultural one. 40 When one's social identity allows him to be the kind of person who is likely to en ter wilderness, it is easy for him to feel an initial sense of belonging that will be strengthened with repeated visits. 39 Ibid, 27. 40 Ibid, 44, 103.
24 Conversely, someone who does not look like a typical wilderness visitor may feel trepidation when considering a wilderness visit, and may cross a geographic and social line by entering wilderness which may elicit unwelcoming behavior towards himself. Trevor Hughes notes of African Americans and wilderness visits, for example, that there "'are cultural morays that say that this is not so mething black people do. There are no signs, no armed guards but there are social cues.'" 41 The power of cultural divides and long standing racially segregated social practices cannot be ignored. The humanist perspective on place elucidates the impres sion that feeling one does or does not belong in wilderness has a substantial impact on who enters wilderness. One may feel unwelcomed because elements of his identity including his social categorization and his beliefs do not align with the stereotypical wilderness id entity. Of course, feelings of being in or out of place are not mere subjective emotional reactions, but are grounded in knowing or sensing that places are imbued with power dynamics. Joseph G. Champ Daniel R. Williams, and Catherine M. Lundy insist that "place identities tend to be associated, more likely than not, with the cultural power to define and maintain meaning." 42 Cultural groups that control the dominant meaning of a place have power over the physical place as well as over the identities of those who associate t hemselves with a place and those who do not. We consciously identify with place s that boost our self respect and sense of who we are. We also unconsciously, perhaps, 41 Trevor Hughes, "Lincoln Hills Offered Resort for African Americans Visiting Colorado." USA Today February, 12, 2016. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation now/2016/02/13/lincoln hills resort african americans visiting colorado/78260774/ 3. 42 J osep h G. Champ Daniel R. W illiams, and Catherine M. Lundy, "An On line Narrative of Colorado Wildernes s: Self in 'Cybernetic Space, '" Environmental Communication, 7, no 1 (2013) : 141.
25 seek places that welcome our social identities and avoid places which have categorized us as outsiders. Conclusion The following chapter will explore how Colorado wilderness became a "vacationland" primarily for privileged Americans, and how the concept of wilderness developed as part of an exclusionary framework. America is a relatively young country, and there is a direct and unbroken connection between the founding of America, the creation of wilderness, and current wilderness demographics. The concept of wilderness was created to benefit colonizers. Though its meaning has s hifted, wilderness has perpetually benefitted privileged Americans.
26 CHAPTER III WILDERNESS AS A SHIFTING CONCEPT AND PLACE OF CONQUEST Towards of Definition of Wilderness There are several ways to define wilderness, and the remainder of this thesis will lead to my own full definition of it in the concluding chapter. Wilderness is both a physical location (or locations) in space and a freighted concept. To begin, the term can be analyzed from an etymological standpoint. The root wilde is Indo Germanic. 43 W ilde contains the Germanic wil which can mean "beyond the law," self guided, or "uncontrollable." 44 The related Old English root wild eor references wild beasts. 45 The suffix ness qualifies wilde and transforms it into a state or condition so tha t wilderness contains the wild. 46 Wilderness is the location of the wild which is not subject to human control and where wild beasts exist. This description of wilderness as a physical location defined by its uncontrollable qualities is roughly in line with the wilderness as it is defined in the United States "Wilderness Act of 1964." The Wilderness Act of 1964 No matter how wilderness is defined, it cannot be denied that it is linked to physical locations. In the United States the government is responsibl e for demarcating wilderness boundaries. The "Wilderness Act of 1964" legally defines wilderness. This cannot be overlooked because the Act is the authority that maintains the physical place of wilderness; without legal protection, the space of wilderness would vanish. The Act also endows 43 Jonathan Bordo, "Picture and Witness at the Site of Wilderness," Critical Inquiry 26, no. 2 (Winter 2000) : 227. 44 Ibid, 227; Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 1. 45 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 1. 46 Jonathan Bordo, "Picture and Witness at the Site of Wilderness," 225.
27 wilderness with a conceptual meaning which has helped define its physical boundaries. The Act is also part of a colonial history of eventually qualifying Indigenous peoples as non wild and therefore out of place in wildern ess. Since the Act's definition of wilderness opens many avenues for discussing the conceptual complications and contradictions of wilderness, including its tie to oppres sion, I provide the definition in its entirety. The "Wilderness Act of 1964" states: A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An are a of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreatio n; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. 47 The description of wilderness as contrasting with places where "man and his own works dominate the land" is agreed upon by many scholars. Champ, Williams and Lundy, for example, define wilderness as "un developed, and less developed lan dscapes." 48 The word "dominate" signals that wilderness nee d not be completely free of man made structures. Many Colorado wilderness areas indeed have remnants of mining camps as well as many trails and some roads. Thus, Leopold declares that "wilderness exists in all degrees 47 "Wilderne ss Act of 1964," Pub. L. No. 88 577, U.S.C. 1131 1136 (1964), in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 121. 48 J oseph G. Champ Daniel R. W illiams, and Catherin e M. Lundy, "An On line Narrative of Colorado Wildernes s: Self in 'Cybernetic Space, '" 134.
28 wilderness is a relative condition." 49 However, if wilderness contains wildness, then a question that arises is how much wildness does wilderness need to contain to be considered as such? As the title suggests, in "The Twofold My th of the Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity," Scott Friskics argues that "wilderness represents one end of a continuum of naturalness" and that wilderness is not conceptualized by wilderness visitors as pure and untouche d by humans. 50 Here Friskics, as I will show, mistakenly conflates the legal definition of wilderness with the common conception of wilderness. That is, he incorrectly predicates his argument on the assumption that the American public conceptualizes wildern ess based on the Act. Moreover, Steven Vogel uncovers the logical difficulty of defining wilderness as a relative condition since "the discovery of true wilderness, as always, is deferred, and all we have before us is wilderness' signifier." 51 Because all, or nearly all, land has been touched by humans in some way he claims that true wilderness does not exist. Vogel's statement could be considered a continuum fallacy since there may not have to be absolute opposites for a continuum to exist, but it also sig nals that true wilderness is a concept not a place that can be found. The most misinterpreted and discussed phrase in the Act is that wilderness is "untrammeled by man." The phrase means that the land is unrestricted and free from human influence. It do es not mean, as some claim, that it is not tread upon by humans Friskics and Mark Woods agree that the legal designation of wilderness as untrammeled is "forward 49 Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation 278. 50 Scott Friskics, "The Twofold Myth of Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity," Environmental Ethics 30, no. 4, (Winter 2008) : 386. 51 Vogel, Steven, "Nature as Origin and Difference: On Environmental Theory and Continental Thought," supplement, Philosophy Today 42 (January 1998) :171.
29 looking," meaning that current structures and human cuts in the land are encouraged to disint egrate and to be reclaimed by natural processes. 52 I have seen evidence of this interpretation when I witnessed prison inmates tasked with carrying decades old mining equipment out of the Eagle's Nest Wilderness. This fact of removal means that, paradoxical ly, human effort is required to make a place more "wild" or uncontrolled. It could be argued that instead of interpreting wildness as uncontrolled, wildness might mean that a thing creates itself, that the wild cannot be created by humans. In Chapter VI, the notion of wildness will be taken up again where it will be investigated in the context of "wild being," and as both a gap, and as resistance. For now, I assert that it is accurate to define wilderness as a large physical area where landscapes exist tha t are overwhelmingly not cre ated by humans Wilderness that has not been entered by humans is merely a concept which does not refer to a place which actually exist s but to wilderness that is largely void o f man made structures and scars The complication with the "untrammeled" account of wilderness is that the false concept of a truly pure wild place substantially influenced the creation of the concept of wildernes s and justified the removal of N ative peoples. Thus, the clause where man himself is a visitor who does not remain is most relevant to the main focus of this thesis. Wilderness designation stipulates areas where individuals may travel, but where they do not belong for long periods of time. This requirement is obviously necessary to preserve the character of wilderness. However, the next sentence of the Act reads that it designates land retaining its primeval character and 52 S cott Friskics, "The Twofold Myth of Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity," 393; Mark Woods, "Federal Wilderness Preservation in the United States: The Preservation of Wilderness?" in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 136, 137.
30 influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation ." The word "primeval" is ambiguous and does not necessaril y specify a time frame in relation to human habitation. However, the statement implies that wilderness in its original state was free of humans who lived there. This assertion erases the history of Native American presence in wilderness areas. It reinforce s the concept of "empty land" that there are landscapes on the planet which have historically been free of humans which has be en used to justify expulsion of Native Americans from their homelands. Cronon points out th e contradiction in deeming wilderne ss a landscape which retains a primeval character. He writes: "Far from being the one place on earth that stands apart from humanity, it is quite profoundly a human creation indeed, the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural." 53 Western culture has fully developed the concept of wilderness, of a separation between wild land and places where humans live, relatively re cently. Most peoples in the world do not conceive of such a stark division. The Native Americans who inhabited the mountains of Colorado did not view the landscape as wilderness. Friskics argues that wilderness critics such as Cronon unfairly link wildern ess designation to the expulsion of Native Americans. He holds that the history of the creation of national parks is confused with wilderness creation. National parks were established nearly 100 years before the Wilderness Act and were dependent upon the c laim that the land they covered was empty and pristine. He claims that w ilderness, in contrast, was established in a 53 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature," i n Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon ( New Yor k: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 1.
31 context where preservation is forward looking and where the history of the landscape is no longer relevant. 54 Yet Friskics' position focus es on separate legislative acts and underplays how the two are historically connected and part of a continuum of land control that excludes I ndigenous perspectives. The language of the Wilderness Act contributes to the erasure of I ndigenous peoples by diss ociating "primitive" conditions from "human habitation." Instead of a place for permanent living, according to the Act, the wilderness is properly used for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation ." Woods points out that this language de fines wilderness as a place for human use while the previous sentence imparts that we preserve its natural conditions ." He concludes that naturalness is required to produce the conditions for solitude. 55 Yet there remains a tension between the definition o f wilderness as a place where natural conditions exist and the fact that those conditions are used by humans for recreation purposes. Woods asserts that the Act makes it unclear whether wilderness is a place of wildness that has intrinsic value worthy of p rotection, or whether wilderness is simply a human resource that is to be used for specific purposes. 56 Perhaps it is possible to integrate both understandings of wilderness. Nevertheless, the condition of solitude and the activity of recreation are support ed by the Act and, therefore, imbued with value. The "Wilderness Act of 1964" contains language that associates solitude, which has a link to American individualism, and unconfined outdoor recreation a leisure activity which is traditionally associated with white cultural values with "empty" landscapes. The linkage 54 Scott Friskics, "The Twofold Myth of Pristine Wilderness: Misreading the Wilderness Act in Terms of Purity,"393. 55 Mark Woods, "Federal Wilderness Preservation in the United States: The Prese rvation of Wilderness?" 146. 56 Ibid, 149.
32 between solitude, recreation, and empty terrain ties the physical place of wilderness to ideas about what wilderness is and ought to be used for. Solitude and physically active recreation a re venerated for their effects on mental and physical health. Solitude is conducive to self reflection. Trekking or skiing strengthens the body while calming the mind. The thought of wilderness then becomes intertwined with experiencing these meaningful an d socially sanctioned states of being. There is a melding between physical location and a concept about what it means to be in wilderness. This marriage is not problematic in and of itself, but it becomes morally and conceptually thorny when placed in the context of colonialism and a critical social analysis of who the union tends to include and exclude. Wilderness that is empty of human habitation is not a natural state of being. It is a space that has been created. The language of the Act partly acknowle dges this while also claiming that wilderness is natural. Moreover, the Act has a direct lineage to w hat will be described below as The Received Wilderness Idea, or to the concept of wilderness that was developed by the cannon of American wilderness writer s. Wilderness never stood alone as its own entity, separate from human meaning and concepts. It has always been a manufactured concept loaded with symbolic meaning, and in fact the concept of wilderness helped to create the physical place of wilderness as it is now legally defined. The legal definition of wilderness was not generated in isolated government legislative processes, but rather arose in a context where a general conception of wilderness already existed. Nash's seminal thesis in Wilderness and the American Mind is that wilderness is "a state of mind perceived rather than an actual condition of the environment." 57 The stipulation that wilderness be empty of perm anent habitation and that it 57 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind ix.
33 be managed to some degree signals that it is not a "natu ral" condition. Wilderness is a multifaceted construct which gained much of its meaning by developing in tandem with America's evolution as a country. The western concept of wilderness has its roots in European culture, which the etymology of wilderness po ints to, but Americans made it a full blown cultural phenomenon. At its foundation, the concept is dependent upon the American construction of nature and the resulting dualism between nature and humanity, which will be discussed in Chapter IV. The "wild," uncontrollable, or non human quality of wilderness is generally associated with the concept of nature. This association lends wilderness its ideological power as an entity that stands on its own, in contrast to human culture. Cronon explains that this d ivision is a cultural construct that is disguised by defining that which is "natural" as being uninfluenced by humans. He writes that "nature as essence, nature as naive reality, wants us to see nature as if it had no cultural context, as if it were everyw here and always the same. And so the very word we use to label this phenomena encourages us to ignore the context that defines it Nature becomes our dogma And like all dogmas, it is the death of dialogue and self criticism." 58 Nature is consider ed to have its own being in the world, to be the reality out of which everything springs. Humans, of course, are relatively new inhabitants of E arth and came into being through the process of evolution. However, humans are conceptual and social creatures w ho create meaning. Our way of existing in the world involves imparting value on our surroundings. We cannot exist as impartial observers who 58 William Cronon, "Introduction: In Search of Nature i n Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 37, 52.
34 are fully capable of declaring that we know what nature inherently is outside of a cultural context. A critical e xamination of wilderness as a privileged place cannot underestimate the unique strength that the dominant conception of wilderness has to mask the truth that wilderness is indeed a concept. Wilderness contains the wild, but wildness cannot be completely di vorced from wilderness because their meanings are linked in American s minds. The "nonhuman world we encounter is far from being merely our own invention Wilderness is made of that too [However, it] is not the things that we label as wildernes s that are the problem but rather what we ourselves mean when we use that label," writes Cronon. 59 The wild element of wilderness (which incidentally does not only exist in wilderness, but is most closely associated with it) is a force that captures the imagination and shadows the extent to which our culture has imparted meaning into wildness and wilde rness. A critical attitude is needed to remove the dogma of nature and wilderness and to understand how our quotidian being in the world is mediated by concepts. Charles W. Mills writes: "Concepts orient us towards the world Once established in the social mind set [a concept's] influence is difficult to escape, since it is not a matter of seeing the phenomenon with the concept discretely attached but rather of seeing things through the concept itself." 60 The phenomenon of wilderness is particul arly difficult to recognize as a concept because of its aforementioned connection to nature, which is often considered to be beyond the conceptual realm. The conceptualization of American wilderness has a complex history that is seemingly hidden from the p hysical place of the wilderness, but it is made evident in the 59 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature," 1, 12. 60 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," in Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance ed. Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana (New York: SUNY P ress, 2007), 27.
35 lack of diversity in visitors to wilderness areas. The concept of wi lderness obscures the causes of the homogeneity of visitors. The power dynamics of the U.S. socio political system establishe d, and maintain, the obfuscation. The following account describes how shifting concepts of the value of nature along with the hierarch ic al United Sates social structure produced the dominant co nception of wilderness, or the Received Wilderness Idea. Found ations of the Received Wilderness Idea The first Europeans to settle on what would become America's E ast coast considered the unfamiliar landscape to be a hostile antithesis of civilization. According to Nash, the Puritans in particular referred to the l and as an evil wilderness. Their perspective was shaped by their Bibles which referenced cursed wastelands where sinister beings dwelled. Cotton Mather conceived of Native Americans as "active disciples of the devil." 61 The Puritan religion imbued the land and its peoples with active immoral energies which the Puritans felt a strong duty to combat. This negative pre established symbolic understanding of the "new" world was reinforced by the struggles of the settlers as they learned to physically survive. Th e Europeans associated manipulation of the landscape and its peoples with physical and spiritual well being. The result was that "wilderness was the villain, and the pioneer, as hero, relished its d e s t r u c t i o n 62 Wilderness essentially meant all that was se emingly hostile and dangerous. The threat of wilderness was magnified to emphasize its evilness and the goodness of working to tame it. A dualism existed between wilderness or wild nature and Christians. However, as Europeans successfully constructed set tlements and expanded their territory, their conception of wilderness shifted. The first colonies were formed in the early 61 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 36. 62 Ibid, 24.
36 1600s, and by 1890 "the American frontier officially ended according to the U.S. census. 63 Several key factors changed the concept o f wilderness in this interval of time and westward ex pansion. First, the concept of Manifest D estiny the 19th century belief that white colonizers have a divinely sanctioned imperative to alter and occupy the land of North Americ a and to "civilize" or de stroy I ndigenous people who impeded this progress developed and provided the so called moral justification for colonialism. 64 Manifest D estiny in turn hinged on the empty land doctrine, or the principle that non European controlled lands were empty of peo ple who could rightfully claim the land as their own The concept of empty land informs the current wilderness idea. Second, as industrialization arose America cities grew in size and large areas of land became significantly altered and inhabited by Europe ans which shrunk the domain of wilderness relatively rapidly. By the 1800s, civilization had "conquered" wilderness to the extent that the latter became a s c a r c i t y 65 Suddenly, wilderness was valuable and cities developed certain stigmas. Finally, two pro minent intellectual traditions born in Europe began to influence American minds. Firstly, the Enlightenment of the 18th century emphasized understanding the world we inhabit from a scientific perspective which replaced traditional religious and anthropomor phic views with considerations of a unified universe generated by single "divine source." 66 Nature as a whole was suddenly considered to be the foundation of everything. 67 63 Ibid, xii. 64 According to Margaret Kohn and Kavita Reddy in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy "Colonialism" can be defined as "a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another the practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to a new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent set tlers ." In American, this consists of "the practice of European sovereignty over non Western peoples." 65 Ibid, 57. 66 Ibid, 45.
37 Consequently, if nature is sacred, then wilderness cannot be evil. Enlightenment idea s then carried forth into the 19th century as Romanticism developed. Philosoph ical, aesthetic, and political Romanticism places value on nature, emotion, individualism, "implies an enthusiasm for the strange, remote, solitary and mysterious," and an appreciation of that which is overwhelmingly vast and awesome, but also beautiful. 68 The variety and vastness of American wilderness was perfectly suited to experiencing the sublime and embracing Romantic ideals. Hence colonialism, the rise of cities and r eduction of wilderness, and the Enlightenment and Romantic movements each comingled and prod uced an inverted American world view where wilderness was conceptually transformed from an evil domain into a place of national pride. Colonialism: The Removal an d Erasure of Indigenous Populations The western conceptual dualism between nature and humanity which the settlers carried across the Atlantic greatly shaped the concept of wilderness. J Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson stress the Calvinist theologica l roots of the Puritans' thinking. According to Calvinism, nature and humanity are strictly divided. There are no degrees of human habitation or manipulation of land. Wilderness, then, is defined as being devoid of humans. 69 The perspective that the settler s' own ci vilization was the only counter force to wilderness in North America clearly conflicted with the fact that Native Americans lived in what was considered the wilderness. When westerners set foot in North America, it was inhabited by 67 NoÂ‘l Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2009), 19. 68 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 47. 69 J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson, Introduction to the The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 17.
38 tens of million s of p e o p l e 70 The initial label of North America as wilderness was inherently inconsistent. This inconsistency created a shifting account of whether Native Americans were wild or human. Just as Fabien Bayet asserts that the "concept of wilderness without any trace of human interaction dehumanizes the Indigenous peoples living within that lan dscape," the classification of I ndigenous peoples as humans eventually proved equally damning for them as they were removed from their homelands. 71 Colonial contact wi th Native Americans was initially cordial. "Indians" were considered friendly and innocent. Colonialists thought they could civilize and Biblically instruct t h e m 72 However, as non nomadic and materialistic W estern ways of life took root, open warfare ensue d Violent interactions turned colonialists against Indians as the latter were labeled "savages" and thus associated with the wilderness from which they came and departed. 73 "Puritan writers called Indians wolves, lions, sorcerers, and demons possessed by S atan," write Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. 74 Indians as wild beasts aligned with the Old English concept of the wild. English settlers also arrived with concepts of land ownership and property rights. 75 The ideology of demarcating p rivate property was foreign to I ndigenous populations but central to co lonialists. The divide between W estern stationary 70 Michael P. Nelson, "Rethinking Wilderness: The Need for a New Idea of Wilderness," Philosophy in the Contemporary World 3, no. 2 (Summer 1996) : 7. 71 Fabienne Bayet "Overturning the Doctrine: Indigenous People and Wilderness Being Aboriginal in the Environmental Movement ," in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 318. 72 Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, "Images of the Outsid er in American Law and Culture," i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic  (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), 173 ; Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 28. 73 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 28. 74 Richard D elgado and Jean Stefancic, "Images of the Outsid er in American Law and Culture," 173. 75 Ibid.
39 and individualistic ways of living and I ndigenous beliefs about the sacred connection of humans with the E arth and nomadic ways of life, persists to this day as a schism that results in endless conflict. When cultures collided, white settlers chose to uphold their belief in divine ly sanctioned material progress or Manifest Destiny. This necessitated the beli ef in racial and moral superiority. Manifest Destiny is closely related to the ideology of the Doctrine of Discovery. The latter is a principle with relig ious and legal roots dating to the 15th century. It holds that Christian explorers have a right to cla im lands they supposedly "discover" if those lands are held by non Christians. Explorers also have the right to control people inhabiting those lands. In North America, this philosophy meant that, as Mills points out, "Native Americans had no 'right of pro perty and dominion' over their land, which was 'deemed as if it were inhabited only by brute a n i m a l s 76 The colonialists who would eventually officially found the United States and declare in the Preamble to the United States Constitution that they "the people had the inherent right to assert their independence, of ten did not consider I ndigenous inhabitants (nor slaves) to be people. American colonialists morally justified blazing paths through t he uncivilized wilderness once N atives were relegated to sub human status. Moreover, Reginald Horsman points out that the prosperity of the colonies and the successful revolution against England buoyed the confidence of the American self declared "chosen people." 77 Colonial success a t overcoming wilderness on th e E ast coast generate d hope that western expansion would bring 76 Charles W. Mills, "Global White Supremacy," in White Pr ivilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism 5 th ed., ed. Paula S. Rothenberg (New York: W orth Publishers, 2016), 121. 77 Reginald Horsman, "Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racia l Anglo Saxonism, i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic [198 1] (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997), 140.
40 prosperity too. The liminal region between the recently civilized colonies and the vastness of the land that was deemed wilderness became known as the frontier. Pioneers of the frontier gauge d their success based on how well they could conquer wilderness and turn it into civilization. Eventually, they reached the region that would become Colorado. Settlement in Colorado The arrival of white settlers in Colorado mirrored the ini tial contact s ettlers had with Natives on the E ast coast. As settlers ventured west in the 1800s, they "expected to see Indians as part of the 'untamed wilderness,'" writes Carolyn Merchant. 78 Indians were a curious element of the unknown wilderness. Yet they were also a type of business partner to the first pioneers with whom they established a fur trade. White fur trappers were themselves nomadic and this lifestyle generally created harmony with Native Americans. Clashes between whites and Native Americans primarily be gan when increased numbers of colonialists decided to establis h permanent habitations in the W est. Colorado was a United States colony for 15 years before gaining statehood on August 1, 1876. Prior to being a colony, the land that is now within Colorado was claimed alternatively by th e Mexican, Spanish, and English and also passed between several U.S. territories, including Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Utah and New Mexico. Many treaties with American Indian tribes were entered into by the actors who claimed what was to be Colo rado. In the 1800s, an increasing number of treaties were broken as gold was discovered. On the Colorado front range, gold prospectors moved onto tribal lands where there was little 78 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," Environmental History 8, no. 3 (July 2003) : 381.
41 federal U.S. oversight in the isolated territories. 79 In frastruct ure was built near mining sites Westerners were n o longer transient but claimed I ndigenous land. Native Americ an retaliation prompted counter responses. The Sand Creek Massacre of 1864 was meant to permanently expel N atives from eastern Colorado. The attack was not condoned by the U.S. government, but the government was subsequently called upon to defend settlers when the N atives became vengeful. The solution was the process of moving Native Americans to federally sanc tioned r e s e r v a t i o n s 80 Federal lines were dra wn around civilized space, and I ndigenous populations were placed elsewhere in the wilderness. The Ute s still roamed their high country homeland when Colorado became a U.S. state. However, as the 1800s prog ressed, more minerals were discovered in the Colorado mountains and white settlers continued to flock to the region. The result was that the Utes' reservations increasingly shrank as the U.S. government broke more t r e a t i e s 81 In 1877, the Ouray Times suppor ted the slogan the 'Utes Must Go,' arguing that the landscape should be used by "'intelligent and industrious c i t i z e n s 82 The Denver Times also supported removing the Utes from central Colorado. Ubbelohde et. al. quote the newspaper: "'Either they [the Ut es] or we must go, and we are not going. Humanitarianism is an idea. Western Empire is an inexorable fact. He who gets in the way of it will be crushed.'" 83 Belief in Manifest Destiny and The Doctrine of Discovery is evident in the editorial statement; West ern civilization was meant to overtake the wilderness of the central and northern Colorado mountains. The U.S. military supported this position. Consequently, "[o]n September 7, 79 Carol Ubbelohde, Maxine Benson, and Duane A. Smith, A Colorado History 89. 80 Ibid, 105, 108. 81 Ibid, 175. 82 Ibid, 178 9. 83 Ibid, 182.
42 1881, the last of the Utes passed the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison Ri vers Congress declared the Ute lands public and open for filing on June 1882," state Ubbelohde et. all. 84 Soon after Colorado was granted statehood, Colorado's so called mountainous wilderness was officially overtaken by American civilization. The d isplacement of Utes and other tribes was part of a broader effort to portray America as a racially white country that was destined for greatness. Horsman contends that expansionist rhetoric became more racially explicit between 1800 and 1850. Americans wer e defined as Anglo Saxons who were racially superior and would bring prosperity to the w o r l d 85 The American Civil War resulted in the emancipation of blac k slaves between 1863 and 1865 but was hardly an end to racism and institutional discrimination. Tribe s were subject to military control before and after the war. Other non white groups were also treated with federal inequity. For example, the Chinese were discriminated against by the Exclusion Act of 1882, several years after they had g reatly aided in Ame rican nation building by constructing railroads and operating mines, many of which were in Colorado. In 1924, all Asians were barred from the country for a time. 86 It was also in 1924 that Native Americans were given United States citizenship. Yet citizens hip was a poor consolation for peoples who were placed on reservations and whose nations remain within the bounds of a colonial nation state Each Native American tribe is unique and their ways of life resist assimilation into mainstream American life. Ho wever, as 84 Ibid, 183. 85 Reginald Horsman, "Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racia l Anglo Saxonism, 139. 86 Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, "Images of the Outsid er in American Law and Culture," 174.
43 a whole Native Americans were (and are ) treated not only as different but as an inferior race and as sub human. Citizenship, nationality and race are often associated, especially when a nation uses race to define itself. Jackson and Penrose c ontend: "The nation state is a crucial locus for the articulation of racist ideologies, because of the extent to which it embodies the idea of 'race' and legitimizes it through the granting or withholding of citizenship, the right to enter and remain withi n a country, and a host of other e n t i t l e m e n t s 87 The theft of I ndigenous land and creation of reservations was ideologically permissible because Indigenous Americans were considered inferior to whites, and especially to Anglo Saxons. As an ideology driving American expansionism, Manifest Destiny depended upon racial hierarchy. In th e mountains of Colorado, nation building was intertwined with excluding the Utes. Penrose and Jackson explain: "Place contextualizes the cons truction of 'race' and nation, generating geographically specific ideologies of racism and n a t i o n a l i s m 88 The complete expulsion of the Utes from the mountains means that the high country has been constructed as a white place, especially since the time tha t Colorado entered statehood. An Urbanite and Nationalistic Construction of Wilderness At approximately the same time that the Utes were pushed out of the mountains for supposedly not being "industrious" enough to work the land, a concern for the destruc tion of "natural" landsca pes developed in cities on the E ast coast. As America established a foothold as a burgeoning country, American nationalists looked for ways to distinguish the new country and to define it as exceptional. The new found admiration of nature during the 87 Peter Jackson and Jan Penrose, "Introduction: Placing 'Race' and Nation," 9. 88 Jan Penrose and Peter Jackson, "Conclusion: Identity and the Politics of Difference," 205.
44 Enlightenment perfectly suited this purpose since America encompassed a vast landscape. Yet, as Nash explains, an attribute unique to nature in the New World had to be found. The search led to the wilderness American nationalists began to understand that it was in the wildness of its nature that their country was unmatched And if, as many suspected, wilderness was the medium through which God spoke most clearly, then America had a distinct moral advantage over Europe." 89 To pr omote America's unique resource of wilderness, the wild quality of nature had to be defined. Americans compared their land to Europe and not to Africa, for example, a continent less developed by industry which, paradoxically, by the same logic would be a p lace where God would have perhaps the most room to manifest. This point is significant because it signals that American wilderness had to contain the right degree of wildness. Wilderness could not be wholly unruly. It must be relatively safe like Europe, for Americans to commune with God. If wilderness was to become a national treasure, then it could no longer contain the potential threat of Native Americans. Native Americans who were once described as wild and whose domain was wilderness had to be re classified. Though not fully welcom ed into American civilization, N atives were suddenly human and no longer wild. The shifts in wilderness appreciation and the dominant American stance towards Indigenous people created a new American concept of wilderness. Wilderness could no longer contain people. Merchant explains that as national parks and eventually wilderness areas, were established, American Indians were placed on reservations and wilderness was defined in opposition to civilization. 90 I ronically, the embrace of wild nature was paired with the creation of a safe space for whites to experience wilderness. Nash writes: "No longer did the forest and Indian 89 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 69. 90 Merchant, Carolyn. "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 381.
45 have to be battled in hand to hand combat. The average citizen could approach wilderne ss with the viewpoint of the vacationer instead of the c o n q u e r o r 91 The new concept of a wilderness that was wild yet welcoming cultivated the myth of empty land and promoted wilderness tourism. A revisionist history began to erase the presence of Native A mericans in American landscapes. The removal and erasure of Native Americans from their homelands is the ultimate act of racist chicanery performed by white Americans to construct a concept of wilderness that benefits them. Cronon writes: "The removal of Indians to create an 'uninhabited wilderness' uninhabited as never before in the human history of the place reminds us just how invented just how constructed, the American wilderness really is [and] one of the most striking proofs of the cultural invention of wilderness is its thoroughgoing erasure of the history from which it s p r a n g 92 It is clear that the concept of wilderness where man is only a visitor is socially constructed when one considers the history of wilderness space. While Cronon's account of wilderness is accurate, he does not present his critique in racial terms. As will be discussed in Chapter IV, the omission of mentioning America's racial dynamics speaks to the power that white supremacy has to disguise itself. Cronon and many other wilderness critics shy away from discussing racism, and I argue that their oversight serves to reinforce the racial inequality of wilderness. Critical Race Theory scholars aptly point out the tendency of some academics to dissociate racial politics with historic narrative, or to only mention race when it benefits whites. Zeus Leonardo explains: "When it comes to official history, there is no paucity of representation of whites as its creator However, when it concerns domination, whites 91 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 143. 92 "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature," 10.
46 suddenly disappear, as if history were purely a positive sense of contribution. Their previous omnipresence becomes a position of nowhere, a certain politics of u n d e t e c t a b i l i t y 93 Cronon's critique is incomplete because it does not fully expose the weight of oppression of people of color by whites to which wilderness contributes. As Mills declares, "the denial of the extent of Native American and black victimization buttresses the white narrative of discovery [and] the mystification of the past underwrites the mystification of the present." 94 The racism inherent in wilderness creation must be directly illuminate d to make wilderness inclusive. Part of exposing the problematic h istory of wilderness creation involves examining how wilderness was reconstructed so that it became a national value. Bordo writes that "the wilderness is the state or condition that obliterates history by initiating history from that very moment" when wh ite colonial ideology imparts meaning onto a previously "empty" l a n d s c a p e s 95 With the reconstruction of wilderness as a blank slate, new meaning had to be infused into wild places. In A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time John Brinckerhoff Jackson argues that unlike Europeans and other peoples, American colonialists "lacked any common historical or mythical memory" that tied Americans to the land and to each other. 96 The concept of wilderness as an uninhabited place provided a suitable opportunity to devise a n ew cultural myth that would utilize America's geography to produce a place where Americans could go to strengthen their characters and improve their well being. The wilderness myth is known as the Received Wilderness Idea (RWI). 93 Zeus Leonardo, Race, Whiteness, and Educa tion (New York: Routledge, 2009), 88. 94 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," 31. 95 Jonathan Bordo, "Picture and Witness at the Site of Wilderness," 231. 96 John Brinckerhoff Jackson, A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1 994), 83.
47 The Received Wilderness Id ea The Received Wilderness Idea is the common American conception of wilderness that was established primarily in the 19th century by the can on of wilderness writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and John Muir. Aldo Leopold also bui lt upon early concepts of wilderness while becoming a founder of America's conservation movement. The RWI holds that wilderness is essentially "pure nature." It is a large, sacred, and pristinely natural area that is unaltered by humans and the antithesis of human culture and civilization. Wilderness is also a freeing place where individuals may experience solitude, contemplation, physical challenge, and a connection to the divine unity of the universe, all of which strengthen the individual's character. Th e "Wilderness Act of 1964" grew out of the culturally established RWI. Nash notes that Congress deliberated at length on the wilderness bill that helped establish the Act. These deliberations included references to Thoreau, Muir, and Leopold and signaled a familiarity with their articulations of w i l d e r n e s s 97 Moreover, the illustrious western literary and non fiction writer and conservationist Wallace Stegner was an instrumental voice who encouraged the passage of the bill and creation of the Act. Stegner wrote the "Wilderness Letter" in 1960 in support of the federal protection of wild places. The focus of the letter is a defense of the value of preserving physical wilderness so that the idea of wilderness may live on. The letter encapsulates the RWI, and I contend that it can be considered a bridge between the canon of wilderness writers and the "Wilderness Act of 1964." 97 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 224.
48 Stegner: A Bridge Between Theory and Law Stegner argues that the knowledge that wilderness exists is equally as important as physical ly entering wilderness. He writes: "The reminder and reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in ten years set foot in i t 98 The wilderness that is out there is described as consisting of a variety of landsc apes that are each of value. However, Stegner specifically refers to "virgin forests" where "wild species" roam in unpolluted l a n d s 99 Wilderness is a pure location, a utopia where one might escape the "noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotiv e w a s t e 100 Pristine wilderness is contrasted with towns and cities where Americans must presumably maintain their spiritual health by recalling that there are places devoid of civilization's ills. Stegner may be right to point out that people are given hop e when they know that earthly paradises exist. Wilderness may also be the best place to feel that we are "part of the natural w o r l d 101 Conversely, the dualism established between a utopian wilderness and sullied civilization problematically places hope for individual and social well being outside of human society. Stegner uses an appeal to nature as an essential entity that is an independent source of knowledge and good ness to construct wilderness as the ground against which we can judge and reassess our values. He voices a fea r of technology overwhelming us and of losing the one place where we can truly experience "reflection and rest." 102 The idea of wilderness is paired with the physical experience of a tame wilderness as Stegner describes the need to 98 Wallace Stegner, "Wilderness Letter," Wallace Stegner to David E. Pesonen, 3 December 1960 and the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, http://wilderness.org/bios/former coun cil members/wallace stegner 3. 99 Ibid, 3. 100 Ibid. 101 Ibid. 102 Ibid.
49 retreat there to restore equilibrium. It is clear that the value of the idea of wilderness has little meaning if one does not have a physical experience of wilderness that is connected to the idea. The idea of wilderness i s therefore not of value to all Americans. And, if wilderness is needed to gain peace and understanding, it seems that these qualities are inaccessible to many citizens. The purpose of my critique of Stegner is to expose how his defense of wilderness exclu des many Americans by insinuating that they do have the hope of achieving well being and respite even if they have never accessed wilderness. I do not aim to fault Stegner for failing to provide a thorough account of sources of well being, nor for neglecti ng to realize how his letter grants the possibility of well being only some Americans. Instead, as with this thesis in general, I intend to uncover why the rhetoric of wilderness is exclusory and is often rightly perceived as such. An additional example of exclusionary rhetoric is the argument that one's American identity depends upon contact with wilderness. Stegner contends that to make "such a democrat, such a believer in individual human dignity the frontier was necessary For an American, insofar as he is new and different at all, is a civilized man who has renewed himself in the w i l d 103 This colonial stance posits that the development of the values of democracy and human dignity depend upon interaction with wilderness or with the wildernes s civilization interface. First, the fact that many other countries also purport to embrace these values rev ea ls the illogic of this reasoning. Second, Stegner implicitly embraces colonial conquest and excludes Americans notably African Americans whose ancestors did not participate in frontier expansion. Third, the character building challenge of 103 Ibid.
50 confronting the liminal space of the frontier is confusingly tangled with the concept of the wild. The Received Wilderness Idea: Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir St egner's exclusionary rhetoric and theoretical inconsistencies emanate from the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir. The latter three writers were each born within sixty years of the 1776 ratification of the Declaration of Independence and were instrumen tal in forming the concept of American wilderness. Emerson and Thoreau also shaped the identity of the new American nation as a whole. Emerson "occupies the very center of the American intellectual tradition," writes Larzer Z i f f 104 Thoreau builds on Emerson 's work and is also regarded as a pillar of American intellectualism. Muir's writing also reflects Emerson's philosophy but is primarily centered on wilderness. Muir is the most famous of the three men in contem porary American popular culture and remains t he great "publicizer of the American w i l d e r n e s s 105 The philosophy that undergirds Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir's concept of American wilderness is Transcendentalism, an American offshoot of Romanticism. The themes expressed by America's earliest wilderness writers correspond with many of the themes embraced by European literary Romantics. As noted earlier, Romantic themes include an embrace of nature, emotion, individualism the divine nature of humans, the power of the imagination, and the sublime. Romanti cs are often critical of cities and of industrial capitalism. These themes translated well across the Atlantic where the apparent divide between nature and culture was wider than in Europe. Ziff explains that European Romantics often described scenes of p astoral nature where ruins and other evidence of 104 Larzer Ziff, Introduction to Nature and Selected Essays ed. Larzer Ziff ( New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 7. 105 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 122.
51 human influence blended with flora. American nature was closer to pure on a nature continuum, seen as "a splendid, empty theater." 106 "Empty" nature, or wilderness, was thus the ideal place for an individual to explore and experience a Romantic view of the world. Transcendentalists' core belief that nature contains a spiritual truth that helps to bring forth individuals' divinity is derived from Romanticism but given additional weight by the Transcendentalist s' due to their attention to America's extreme urban nature divide. America's abundance of industrially undeveloped land meant that the influence of nature on Americans was especially powerful. According to Ziff, Emerson developed the idea that American c ulture and history did not conquer nature but that culture was instead created out of nature. This concept helped America to discover its "intellectual identity." 107 Emerson's accounts of nature reflected a changing American perspective that was shifting awa y from the pioneer's conquering mentality. As industrialization grew in strength, fear of the unknown landscape gave way to anxieties about the overreach of industry. The concern that America's landscape was being overtaken was paired with the intellectua l pressure to create an American identity; America's growing economic success meant that many Americans had the freedom to decide how they wanted to define themselves. As America gained political power, it was also sadd led with the horrors of slavery and t hen with the civil war. In Playing in the Dark Toni Morrison concentrates on how Romanticism expresses nati onal anxiety. Just as European R omantics looked to nature and imagination as means of escaping the concern surrounding urban industrialization and t he American and French R evolutions, Americans embraced R omantic ideals to cope with 106 Larz er Ziff, Introduction to Nature and Selected Essays 8 9. 107 Ibid, 12.
52 "the terror of human freedom" and with the reality that many America n s were enslaved. 108 Privileged Americans likely turned to nature and overemphasized its purity and goodne ss as a form of escape against the background of national tumult and the worst form s of inequality. Emerson explicitly connects the need for a uniquely American identity with the influence and power of nature. In "The American Scholar," he writes that Am ericans must sever their dependence on European thought and develop their own ideas. The starting point for this task is the recognition that nature is the original and most important influence on human thought. Emerson follows Romantic philosophy and argu es that nature is the source that animates the divine spark in humans minds. He contends that the "one thing in the world, of value, is the active s o u l 109 Everyone can activate his or her soul, but it seems tha t communing with nature is needed to do so. Ca llicott and Nelson confirm that "wilderness was classically conceived to be a resource for human use for human recreation, aesthetic gratification, spiritual communion, character building, [and] scientific s t u d y 110 Emerson's remarks articulate his position that while culture may have sprung from nature, we must use this knowledge to serve our intellectual and spiritual development as individuals and as exceptional Americans. Emerson's transcendental philosophy doe s not espouse the intrinsic value of nature, but rather is concerned with the human mind. He explains that "the materialist takes his departure from the external world, and esteems man as the product of that. The idealist takes 108 Toni Morrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Vintage Books, 1993), 36 37. 109 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar," i n Nature and Selected Essays ed, Larzer Ziff,  (New York: Penguin Books, 1982) 83, 85, 88. 110 J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson, Introduction to The Great New Wilderness Debate 13.
53 his departure from his consc iousness, and reckons the world an a p p e a r a n c e 111 Nature is valuable because it is a vital force that opens the mind to understanding its own imaginative capacities as well as the divine structure of the universe. For Emerson, nature is the background again st which to judge humanity. It is a "fixed point whereby we may measure our departure. As we degenerate, the contrast between us and our house [i.e. nature] is more evident." 112 Nature is the origin from which we proceed, but the human mind and soul is a filter that we need to under stand nature. There is a nature/ mind dualism evident in Emerson's philosophy, and the latter is privileged. Thoreau's iteration of T ranscendentalism follows Emerson's but shifts away from dualism by proposing a more unified connection between nature and the human mind. In Walden Thoreau composes the following passage which is typical of his poetic landscape description coupled with his fixation on introspection. He writes: "A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expre ssive feature. It is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own n a t u r e 113 Here there is the sense of reciprocity between the water and the observer. Yet, at other points in the text, Thoreau's love of Walden Pond and other p onds seems to emotionally consume him so that he elevates the value of nature while degrading humanity. He exclaims that the ponds "are too pure to have market value; they contain no muck. How much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent t han our characters they a r e 114 The ponds' purity is contrasted with humans', suggesting that the 111 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Transcendentalist," i n Nature and Selected E ssays ed. Larzer Ziff  (New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 241. 112 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," i n Nature and Selected Essays ed. Larzer Ziff  (New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 73 74. 113 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden ed. Jeffrey S. Cramer ( New Hav en: Yale University Press, 2006), 203. 114 Ibid, 218.
54 water posses ses a sort of moral purity, or at least a kind of simplicity that lacks an entanglement with the ills of the world. This Romantic attachment to the supposed goodness and truthfulness of nature is intensified in John Muir's writing. Muir promotes the theory that the spirit and transcendent mind unlock universal divinity, but that landscapes are also imbued with a kind of influence and grandeur that exceeds Emerson 's and Thoreau's descriptions of nature. His dramatic representations of the mountainous Northern California landscape no doubt contribute to his popular following today. Muir places the mind hierarchically above the senses and praises the h uman sprit for perceiving a depth of the earth that the eyes c a n n o t 115 He upholds the R omantic appreciation for the imagination. 116 However, his most impassioned passages refer to the land itself and suggest that particular locations are endowed with a sublim e power. Romantic literature describes the sublime as that which expands one's consciousness through its qualities of being simultaneously beautiful and emotionally and existentially overwhelming. Yosemite's South Dome is described by Muir as a sublime fo rmation that "seems to be alive and causes him to "humbly prostrate before the vast display of God's power, and [ to be] eager to offer self denial and renunciation with eternal toil to learn any lesson in the divine manuscript." 117 Divinity seems to emana te from the land and inspire the mind. The impression is given that nature holds the greatest expression of godliness. Nature is the place to go to worship God, and nature itself is worshiped. All of the 115 John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works ed. Edwin Way Teale (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1982), 320. 116 Muir was clearly familiar with British romantic writers. He specifically references Shelly's work in My First Summer in the Sierra 148. 117 John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra (New York: Penguin Books, 1987), 122, 132.
55 natural "world seems a church and the mountains alta rs," writes Muir. 118 Like Thoreau's depiction of his beloved ponds, Muir imbues the Northern Sierra landscape with moral goodness and simplicity. He declares that "everything is perfectly clean and pure and full of divine lessons I should like to live here always. It is so calm and withdrawn while open to the universe in full communion with everything g o o d 119 Yosemite's natural features are flawless and associated with a benevolent God. The landscape is implicitly set up in opposition to towns and citie s where Muir would prefer not to return. Romantics and Transcendentalists were weary of industrial capitalism and critical of its contribution to pollution and poverty in cities. Muir refers to capitalists as "temple destroyers" who "instead of lifting t heir eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty D o l l a r 120 Humans are responsible for society's corruption which has overtaken areas of the earth that were originally part of God's pure Eden. Muir wishes to stay in the Sierras because he d oes not believe that society's ills can be remedied from within civilization. Wilderness, or what is conceived of as pure nature, is where humanity must look to heal itself. "In God's wildness lies the hope of the world," writes M u i r 121 His worship of wilde rness stemmed from his own journey as a boy from Scotland to America which brought him great joy since America's open spaces meant freedom in comparison with the town where he spent his first y e a r s 122 Muir's transmits his point of view primarily via person al narratives in the form of journal entries. His relationship to place can be considered humanist in orientation because of his emotive self expression, but it is also linked to 118 Ibid, 250. 119 Ibid 157, 204. 120 John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works 320. 121 Ibid, 315. 122 Ibid, 32.
56 Romantic conceptions of nature. His own sense of escape from Europe and then his decision to forgo his burgeoning career as an inventor in the Midwest to r oam freely in the West express his commitment to individualism. Muir was able to fulfill the Romantic fantasy of leaving civilization to experience innocent and unsullied wilderness. A Critique of the R eceived W ilderness I dea The Received Wilderness Idea, then, decidedly could not hav e been developed without first constructing cities and towns as fallen places. The association of nature with truth is made possible by its dualistic opposition to civilization. According to Sturgeon, this standard Western ideological move is accomplished by investing in the belief that a transition from "primitive" societies to increasingly globalized and technologically and financially developed cultures is inevitable. This belief is paired with a perspective that reifies the conceptual divide between cul tures that are closer to nature and industrialized cultures, which mistakenly overlooks that it is a choice to create a firm conceptual division between wilderness and c i v i l i z a t i o n 123 This division and the lament that Western civilization has lost contact w ith nature and truth primarily arose in the intellectual hub of cities. The concept of wilderness as a salve arose in intellectual circles in places where intellectuals were distanced from harsh natural conditions, from working the land, and, in America, from directly witnessing the displacement of Native Americans. Nash declares: "Enthusiasm for wilderness developed among sophisticated Europeans surrounded by cities and books. So too in America the beginning of appreciation are found among writers, artists, scientists, vacationers, gentlemen people in short, who did not face wilderness from 123 NoÂ‘l Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture 12 13.
57 a pioneer's p e r s p e c t i v e 124 The first American advocates for the value of wilderness lived on the E ast coast in growing cities spurred by industrial capitalism. Their interests were not with the Native American populations that were declining and relocated "through a combination of military force, disease, and hundred of bro ken treaties but with understanding America's vast landscape within a European intellectua l f r a m e w o r k 125 Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir share similar demographic backgrounds. In addition to being white males, each was exceedingly intellectually inclined and familiar with current intellectual trends, able to live independently, and none were pioneers or laborers who worked the land. Their personal and social identities assuredly influenced their ideas. The founders of the RWI were not wealthy, but they were each able to financially support themselves and gain access to leisure time and higher education institutions. Emerson and Thoreau attended Harvard, and Muir who "was desperately hungry and thirsty for knowledge and willing to endure anything to get it attended the University of Wisconsin M a d i s o n 126 The fact that admission to these insti tutions, especially in the 19th century, generally indicated a high level of privilege is perhaps often sidelined when considering how the RWI was created because these men tended to disassociate themselves from their advantaged social positions. Thoreau distanced himself from most social connections, including academic ones. In his tribute to Thoreau after his death, Emerson iterates that Thoreau "seldom thanked colleges for their service to him, holding them in small esteem, whilst yet his debt to them 124 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 51. 125 Charles W. Mills, "Global White Supremacy," 119 120. 126 John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works 66.
58 w as i m p o r t a n t 127 Nor did Thoreau identify with the wealthy, whom he took an explicit position against. He writes: "The luxuriously rich are not simply kept comfortably warm, but unnaturally hot; as I implied before, they are cooked, of course Âˆ la m o d e 128 T his piquant criticism relates that wealth tends to engender a materialism which places one fa rther from nature and truth. Thoreau also recognized that extreme wealth for some begets poverty for o t h e r s 129 Muir seconds Thoreau's position regarding the superfl uity of excessive affluence. He argues that "quickly acquired wealth usually creates desire for more. Then indeed the wool is drawn close down over the poor fellow's eyes, diming or shutting out almost everything worth s e e i n g 130 The RWI founders clearly do not advocate for materialistic consumption. However, they do value the freedom and privilege of pursuing solitude and the space for intellectual development and aesthetic appreciation. Individualism, or the quality of being self determinate and self reli ant, is championed because it allows one to be in a position where he can enter wilderness, feel its presence, and contemplate its meaning. Emerson encourages us to "[b]uild therefore your own world. As fast as you conform your life to the pure idea in yo ur mind, that will unfold its great p r o p o r t i o n s 131 He is concerned with the political tyranny of the majority, but also with the ability to be alone in nature so that one might develop his own unique thoughts. For Emerson, "the great man is he who in the m idst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude" since "[n]othing is sacred but the integrity of your own 127 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau, i n Nature and Selected Essays ed. Larzer Ziff  (New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 393. 128 He nry D. Thoreau, Walden 13. 129 Ibid, 35. 130 John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 22 23. 131 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," 81.
59 m i n d 132 The emphasis on one's own thoughts, instead of for instance one's community, is evidence of Emerson's privileged social position because it requires the luxury of time dedicated to thinking as well as the practical ability to safely physically separate oneself from others. The working class, women, and minorities were rarely allowed these capabilities in the mid 180 0s. Thoreau's famous two year sojourn at Walden Pond can be considered an exercise in taking Emerson's preference for solitude to heart. Thoreau was largely isolated, although he was in contact with neighbors, friends, and others throughout his stay. He was a romantically unattached man who did not engage with common social practices such as attending church. His acts of civil disobedience and anti slavery efforts are certainly to be honored, yet he apparently never v o t e d 133 He, according to Emerson, "cho se, wisely no doubt for himself, to be the bachelor of thought and n a t u r e 134 There is little to condemn in Thoreau's choice to live at Walden, and there he created philosophical and literary prose that is of great worth. Yet that he could choose to live for a period in an isolated contemplative state at a time when most members of American society could not is an index of his privilege Furthermore, Emerson and others praise Thoreau for his moral purity which, although perhaps unintentional, sign als that those who do not have the privilege of communing with nature are tinged with moral i m p u r i t y 135 Muir's solitude was more extreme, and he is more explicit in his assessment of those who do not access wilderness, writing that most city folk are rath er ill and that "there is not a 132 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self Reliance, i n Nature and Selected Essays ed. Larzer Ziff  ( New York: Penguin Books, 1982), 181, 178. 133 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau, 395. 134 Ibid. 135 Ibid, 410.
60 perfectly sane man in San F r a n c i s c o 136 One's psyche may indeed be shaped by living in a city, but Muir is mistaken; neither insanity nor sanity are exclusive to cities. While Thoreau's civil disobedience signaled his concern about society, Muir avoided a similar commitment. He dodged being drafted into the American civil war, fleeing to Canada. "While whites and blacks alike lost their lives fighting for freedom, Muir worried about maintaining his solitude," writes M e r c h a n t 137 During Reconstruction, Muir was rambling in the California mountains. Emerson, Thoreau and Muir did not only possess the ability to decide to live in relative isolation, but they also communicate that a particular understanding of how to perceive nature is required to reap its benefits. None of the RWI founders were dependent upon manual labor or working the land to secure their well being. Their relationship with wilderness was prim arily an intellectual one, and T ranscendentalism clearly guides their pe rspectives on how humans experience nature. Emerson stresses that human souls seek beauty so that aesthetically pleasing views become an automatic source of renewal. He writes: "The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street and s ees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself a g a i n 138 Fresh air is commo nly acknowledged to physically a ffect one and to refocus the mind. Emerson's emphasis, however, is on the restorative advantage of seeing the scene. The "country life" is ideal to cultivate a "powerful mind" because of the potential for contemplation that its 136 John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works 319. 137 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 386. 138 Ral ph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," 43.
61 aesthetic qualities p r o v i d e 139 Yet, labor traditionally associated with rural areas is antithetical to meaningfully viewing landscapes. Ae sthetic Transcendence Versus Labor and Native American Presence Both Emerson and Thoreau honor labor in general and have sympathy for those who must spend all their time at work. Emerson explicitly notes the worth of working the l a n d 140 Thoreau provides an implicit critique of industrialism and asserts that most American men have "no time to be anything but m a c h i n e 141 However, lack of leisure time is not only unjust, but is problematic because it limits the possibility of pursuing other experiences that, f rom a T ranscendental perspective, lead to a fully realized life. Furthermore, working the land, in particular, has negative consequences because it is conceived of as preventing humans from spiritually communing with nature, and as tarnishing its beauty. In Walden Thoreau expresses contempt towards the farmer after whom Flint's Pond is named. The name of the lake is sacrilegious because the famer had altered the land around the lake which illustrates a lack of respect and love for the lake. Thoreau write s with anger: "I respect not his labors, his farm where every thing has its price Give me poverty that enjoys true wealth. Farmers are respectable and interesting to me in proportion as they are p o o r 142 The farmer is condemned because Thoreau's forem ost concern is maintaining the well being and aesthetic purity of the land. Thoreau's concern for humanity ends when industr y disturbs "natural" landscapes and when the spiritual qualities of the earth are not valued. Emerson similarly expresses the view t hat working the land prevents gaining wisdom from nature. He argues that laborers digging in a field prevent the admiration of the 139 Ibid, 52. 140 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," 95. 141 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden 5. 142 Ibid, 214 215.
62 landscape and are evidence that there is "discord between man and n a t u r e 143 Emerson, like Thoreau, sets up an oppositio n between valuing and respecting nature and working the land. It is reasonable to claim that digging up a landscape decreases its aesthetic appeal, but quite another to assert that the act breaks a potential bond between humans and nature. Neither philosop her seems to reflect on the fact that human survival, including their own need for sustenance and shelter, is dependent upon de filing the so called purity of nature. Their unrealistic and biased position planted the seeds for the traditional conflict betwe en environmental protectionists and land altering manual laborers which continues to this day. Muir expresses a similar disdain for those who do not appreciate the aesthetic and divine qualities of wilderness. The journal excerpts from My First Summer in The Sierra were written while Muir tagged along with a sheep herder who guided the animals to high altitudes for the summer season. Muir often remarks with frustration that the shepherd is blind to the transcendent qualities of the mountains. Muir writes o f Cathedral Peak in Yosemite: Even Shepherd Billy turns at times to this wonderful mountain building, though apparently deaf to all stone sermons I pressed Yosemite upon him like a missionary offering the gospel, but he would have none of it 'Tourists that spend their money to see rocks and falls are fools I've been in this country too long for that' Such souls, I suppose, are asleep, or smothered and befogged beneath mean pleasures and c a r e s 144 Muir's frustration is that of a religious man who cannot understand how someone could be a non believer. Billy's response is that of a man whose prolonged acquaintance with the area prevents him from being converted by a fervent believer who has recently found religion. 143 R alph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," 74. 144 John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 146 147.
63 Muir's previou s unfamiliarity with rugged high altitude mountains evidently heightened his faith in the Sierras. There is an acknowledgement that Shepherd Billy may be consumed with thoughts other than that of the church like qualities of Yosemite. Yet, there is a dis connect in Muir's thoughts because there is no evidence that Muir reflects upon how his and Billy's respective circumstances might influence their perspectives on the value of Yosemite. Muir writes that h e predominately joins the sheep herding migration for pleasure. He contributes minimally to the tasks needed to sustain the men and flock in the wilderness and is usually "free to rove and revel in the w i l d e r n e s s 145 On one hand, it is understandable that Muir sought after his p leasurable wilderness excursion and admirable that he found value in the outdoors instead of in the pursuit of material affluence. On the other, Muir does not give weight to the fact that his freeing experience of wilderness is only possible because of the labor of Billy. For Muir there is "[n]o pain no dull empty hours, no fear of the past, no fear of the future" in w i l d e r n e s s 146 Billy's labor permits Muir to have the peace of mind necessary to focus upon the transcendental qualities of the land. Muir also read English Romantic works which shape his thinking. Many contemporary wilderness lovers, myself included, often describe wilderness experiences as pure and immersive pleasure, perfectly mirroring Muir's words which helped create the RWI. This sense of entitl ement, or the assumption that everyone has the same degree of freedom to ramble outside and forget their cares, is evidence of the privilege of most wilderness visitors, and is off putting to those who feel otherwise. The most sinister consequenc e of the belief that the Sierra s are an untainted place of worship is Muir's opinion that Native Americans tarnish the purity of the landscape. Native 145 Ibid, 130 131. 146 Ibid, 131.
64 women on the banks of Mono Lake are described as "looking almost natural though most Indians I have seen are not a whit more natural in their lives than we civilized whites. Perhaps if I knew them better I should like them better. The worst thing about them is their uncleanliness. Nothing truly wild is u n c l e a n 147 Just as Thoreau comments that laborers digging ruin the aesthetics of the land, Muir also places humans and "natural" landscapes in opposition. Muir's assertion that Indians sully the wild landscape is the more concerning since the land he stands upon was stolen from those Indians by the violent U.S. governm ent. Moreover, Muir often does not set himself or, presumably white, humanity in a dualistic relationship to the mountains. He writes of a mountain, "so human is it we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, kin to e v e r y t h i n g 148 Here, reciprocity is foun d between humans and wildness. "The whole wilderness seems to be alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly," as Muir expresses it in another passage. 149 His experience of connecting with wilderness posits a fluid boundary between humanity and wildness. However, this boundary is, ironically, apparently insurmountable for those whose ancestral homeland is the "wilderness" of the Sierras. Muir's degradation of Native A mericans ought not be dismissed nor omitte d from American remembrance of who he was, nor fully obscured by his aesthetically pleasing evocative writing. It is reasonable and morally sound for Native Americans and others to be outraged by wilderness culture's adoration of his words. Conversely, it may also be helpful to be aware of the ease of placing anachronistic judgments upon historical figures. While Muir 147 Ibid, 226. 148 Ibid, 243. 149 Ibid, 238.
65 unquestionably was racist, his writing also signals that he nevertheless grappled with his perspective on the Indigenous peoples of the S i e r r a s 150 The cognitive dissonance evident in Muir's inability to understand why Billy does not appreciate the beauty of his surrounding makes a similar appearance when Muir ponders what the good life means to him. He wishes to live always in the mountains and muses that he would be happy with only bread and w a t e r 151 At the same time he complains that it is a "strangely dirty and irregular life these dark eyed, dark haired, half happy savages lead in this clean wilderness." 152 The "savages" are elsewhere described as cultivating various food sources and otherwise having what would be considered a higher standard of living than Muir does while in the mountains. It would seem that without the veil of racism, Muir would proclaim that the Native Americans are living hi s dream. He also wonders, as stated in a passage above, whether he would like Natives better if he knew them better. This reference to the limits of Muir's own knowledge signals that he was not fully hostile. In another passage, Muir admires the way that N ative Americans "walk softly and leave virtually no trace compared to the white m a n 153 Muir's respect for the land, or what would later be called an environmental ethic, is closer to that of many Indigenous North American tribes than it is to American cultu re. Nevertheless, it cannot be forgotten that Muir's precious and "untouched" wilderness was made "empty" through the removal and killing of the peoples who originally inhabited the space. 150 In "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," Merchant notes that Muir's journals denote a similar stance towards blacks. She writes: "Although he describes some as 'well trained,' extremely polite, and very 'civil,' he viewed most as lazy and noisy" (386). 151 Ibid, 212 213. 152 Ibid, 206. 153 John Muir, The Wilderness World of John Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works 116 117.
66 Scorn towards Native Americans and laborers drawn from Romantic an d Transcendental ideals, which above all value pristine landscapes, is intrinsic to the RWI. The construction of wilderness, of a place containing the wild, excludes those who do not experience nature from the same points of view as Emerson, Thoreau, and M uir. According to the RWI, wilderness must be a place for self actualization, or at least attention to the individual self. "Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of wilderness," insists M u i r 154 Wilderness is a sa cred place that one must approach with care. Thoreau and Muir each move farther away from anthropocentrism than Emerson. Muir even argues that the world was not made for humans in particular or to be of special use to u s 155 However, they both hold that wild erness has an essence that is differentiated from us and which can only be approached if one has a particular intellectual and aesthetic mindset. More importantly, according to RWI logic, one must not only have the capacity to properly understand wildernes s, but understanding itself requires intercourse with wilderness. Intellectual Wilderness Appreciation The RWI developed after the American frontier had expanded to the West coast and ended there, and thus at a time when Americans had the stability neces sary to concern themselves with matters beyond establishing physical infrastructure. Leopold explains that "the laborer in repose, [was] able for the first moment to cast a philosophical eye on his w o r l d 156 Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir wrote at a time when t he concept of American identity was shifting from its initial connection with victorious conquering to the need to establish how America could claim a unique status among nations. According to Ziff, 154 Ibid, 314. 155 Ibid, 316. 156 Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation 161.
67 Emerson created the predominate philosophical model from which to understand the source of American identity. His contention that American culture developed from nature, so that "American history must be the history of nature speaking through men, not of men shaping nature thus establishing the notion that intelligent thought and the capacity to be a true American is directly dependent upon interaction with nature and the correct attitude towards i t 157 Emerson argues that Americans develop novel ways of thinking due to the influence of Ameri ca's exceptionally powerful n a t u r e 158 The physical space America inhabits, which was thought to contain an abundance of "empty" wilderness, certainly a ffects people differently than other locations might. Although place has a powerful influence, Emerson giv es nature too much weight, especially when one considers that many Americans never experience "pure" nature, or wilderness. The position that experiences in wilderness are integral to American intellectual thought clearly discounts the ideas of those who l ive in exclusively urban areas. Transcendental philosophy is also concerned with nature's, or American wilderness', influence on the soul (or self) and hence on the American soul. Emerson sought to make Americans aware that American land is an expression of divinity that is likewise reflected in t h e m s e l v e s 159 Likewise, Thoreau provides lyrical images that illustrate the effect of aesthetic natural images on the soul. He writes: "The engineer does not forget at night, or his nature does not, that he has beh eld this vision of serenity and purity at least once during the day. Though seen but once, it helps to wash out State Street and the engine's s o o t 160 Thoreau believes that the vision of the landscape around Walden Pond remains with the train 157 Larzer Ziff, Introduction to Nature and Selected Essays 12. 158 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Nature," 35. 159 Larzer Ziff, Introduction to Nature and Selected Essays 19. 160 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden 212.
68 engineer, even if only on the unconscious level of the soul. Images of "pure" nature remain in our memories and comfort us when we face challenges in the city and the "dirt" of industrialization. This insight, sourced no doubt from Romantic poetry, is one which informs Stegner's argument in favor of preserving wilderness for its ability to help "form our character" and because it "is good for our spiritual health even if we never once in it," and only hold it in our m e m o r i e s 161 The combination of wilderness' influence on the intellect and the soul means that individuals who have greater access to wilderness have the potential to have superior intelligence, insight, and connections with themselves, the universe, and God. Indeed, Emerson declares: "No truer American existed than T h o r e a u 162 Those, like Thoreau, who exhibit qualities gained from nature that make them exceptional are more authentically American than others. If an individual does not have access to wilderness, he loses his capacity for g r e a t n e s s 163 According to this perspective, the strength of America as a country depends upon individuals having access to wilderness. The ability to channel nature in order to reconnect with one's self and to renew one's capacity for realizing her potential is transmuted into the collective vigor of the American people. Cronon cites historian Fredrick Jackson Turner's work as he contends that national identity depends upon the origin myth that Americans gained their energy and enthusiasm for creating a thriving democracy from the challenge of pioneering across the frontier. This energy must be consistently replenished with trips into wilderness for America to retain its p o w e r 164 Efforts by the RWI founders to exhibit 161 Wallace Stegner, "Wilderness Letter," 3. 162 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau, 398. 163 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 88. 164 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature," 7.
69 wilderness a s essential to the creation of a well rounded individu al and to the merit of Americans, helped shape what it means to be an American. The founders also laid the cornerstone for the American conservation movement which depends upon the connection between wilderness and American exceptionalism. Cronon emphasi zes this point. He writes: "To gain such a remarkable influence, the concept of wilderness had to become loaded with some of the deepest core values for the culture that created and idealized it: it had to become s a c r e d 165 The RWI influences both the conce pt of American identity and the political power of the conservation movement. The divine aspect of wilderness appeals to the religiosity of Americans or to the desire for transcendence and to our desire to be world class innovative individuals. Stegner 's plea to enact the "Wilderness Act of 1964" based on wilderness' ability to give us strength through the mere knowledge that it exists, cleverly, if somewhat manipulatively, seemingly extended the power of wildernes s to the whole American populace regar dless of their direct contact with the wild. Lyrical Descriptions and Ecological Conservation Thoreau, Emerson, and Muir used the power of descriptive writing and personal narrative to convince readers of the transcendental worth of stone faced mountains, still, reflective lakes, and verdurous trees. Thoreau and Muir were great observers of the natural worlds they inhabited. Muir, especially, studied botany and recorded descriptions of numerous plants in his journals. His inquiry into plant life stemmed fr om a curiosity that displaced anthropocentric modes of thought. "'Why was it made?' goes on and on with never 165 Ibid, 4.
70 a guess that first of all it might have been made for itself," writes Muir of a p l a n t 166 As the RWI drew attention the intrinsic worth of nature an d the need to preserve wilderness, modern ecology was also developing and scientists were discovering other reasons to limit the reach of industry. Aldo Leopold is the primary figure who linked Transcendental and Romantic appreciation for nature with scie ntific knowledge of the e n v i r o n m e n t 167 His soulful prose and development of a land ethic carried the RWI into the political realm of conservation politics. 168 169 Leopold's ethical positions secured popular traction because he wrote at a time when ecologists were gaining insights into the interdependency of eco systems, and when environmental activists became an active political force as they focused on the threat of human pollutants to the environment. Leopold's w ork appeals to both a backwards looking argume nt to America's myth of origin and to the contemporary need to protect the earth, especially in light of climate change. He asserts: "Public wilderness areas are, first of all, a means of perpetuating, in sport form, the more virile and primitive skills in pioneering and t r a v e l 170 This RWI claim that wilderness activities give us strength is bolstered elsewhere by an awareness of environmental problems that earlier writers lacked. Leopold is able to turn the myth of origin claim into a larger threat. He exp resses his concern that America's 166 John Muir, M y First Summer in the Sierra 26. 167 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 182, 194. 168 In A Sand Country Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation Leopold defines a "land ethic" as that which "reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self renewal" (185). 169 In the same work, Leopold defines "conservation" as "a state of harmony between men a nd the land," and as "our effort to understand and preserve the capacity" of land for self renewal (175, 185). 170 Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation 164.
71 most cherished institutions will fall if we do not maintain the wellness of America's w i l d e r n e s s 171 He often repeats the paired words "distinct" and "American," to refer both to wilderness and institutions, further signalin g that his argument is grounded in the RWI and in T r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s m 172 The appeal to America's collective past and future well being seems egalitarian; conservation is beneficial to everyone. However, Leopold is primarily concerned with preserving wild places. These places, as I have stressed, are only accessed by a primarily privileged segment of the U.S. population. Guided in part by Leopold's work, American conservation movements, which have the power to shape the dominant national narrative about wha t the focus of environmental action should be, have traditionally focused on wilderness preservation. In other words, nature that is not "pure," i.e. all of America's environment that falls outside of wilderness bound aries, is neglected. Effort is expande d to preserving isolated eco systems instead of the planet as a whole. More to the point, conservationists traditionally exhibit concern for wilderness and not for urban environments where millions of people live with unhealthy pollution. The Romantic oppo sition between the ills of cities and the benefits of wilderness continues to infuse the conservation ideology so that critics are correct to claim that wilderness is valued over the environment as a whole, and consequently over the lives of people who a re not members of those privileged groups who spend parts of their lives in the wilderness. Conclusion Leopold and conservations are not wrong to dedicate themselves to the protection of wilderness. I stand with their efforts. Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir's devotion to nature and 171 Ibid 281. 172 Ibid, 277, 281.
72 their criticism of industrial capitalism are admirable and have undoubtedly cont inued to encourage Americans' care for our land, the recognition that the earth can teach us, and that humans are not isolated all knowing beings. I take issue, however, with the elitist wilderness ideology which dictates that a proper understanding is nec essary to properly experience wilderness, and that one who does not access wilderness is lacking in intellectual prowess and general strength of character. Leopold writes: "The shallow minded modern who has lost his rootage in land assumes that he has alre ady discovered what is important; it is such who prate of empires, political of economic that will last a thousand years It is only the scholar who understands why the raw wilderness gives definition and meaning to the human e x p e r i e n c e 173 I agree tha t it is foolish to solely seek after extreme material wealth and power, thereby losing contact with part of our humanity and the earth w h ich creates and sustains us. Yet, it is certainly not only "scholars" who deeply know that "raw wilderness," or the wil d, gives meaning to our lives. The fixation on Romantic notions of beauty and soul and transcendence give a kind of meaning to nature. But the city dweller who feels soot on her face after a daily commute through concrete tunnels, or who senses the ambie nt temperature of her neighborhood rising every year, also knows that lack of the wild, or lack of ecological balance, is deeply meaningful to her life. She longs for an experience that may increase her sense of wonderment and connection to type s of beings other than herself. Yet she likely aches more for air that is free of chemicals, for wild river water safe enough to wade her feet in. The RWI founders' belief in transcendent experiences of communing with a universal kin d of divinity in wilderness which gives us power to realize our own full capacity as individuals is 173 Ibid, 281.
73 a wonderful notion. It is not inauthentic nor a mere illusion. Yet our cultural assessment of the value of wilderness must extend beyond lofty notions of meaningfulness. The ability to acces s clean air and a relatively stable environment minimally touched by the consequences of climate change in all habitations in short the need to have greater contact with the wild in order to survive is also meaningful. We can no longer worship wildern ess at the expense of understanding the ecological interconnectivity of the planet as a whole. The tenets of the Received Wilderness Idea which place civilization in opposition to nature and locate in dividual salvation in the woods cannot be upheld if wild erness is to become a concept and place that is equitable, and if we desire to save the planet by recognizing that humanity is not separated from natural ecosystem s We therefore must strive to conserve not only wilderness, but to make the most polluted co rners of streets where people live more wild as well. The Received Wilderness Idea justified colonialism, and now it persists in its contribution to environmental and social inequality and harm. Chapter V will specifically elucidate how the Received Wilder ness Idea illuminates the link between environmental and social injustice. First, Chapter IV will use philosophical and spatial analysis to explain how and why the concept of the RWI remains so strong in American culture so that the difficulty of making wi lderness more inclusive becomes clear er
74 CHAPTER IV DELETERIOUS DUALISM, EPISTEMOLOGICAL BIAS, AND SPATIAL CONCEALMENT Chapter III explained the historical, social, and intellectual factors that led to the creation of wilderness. The preceding account of the formation of the legal and Received Wilderness Idea concept of wilderness situated wilderness within a historical framework. It also provided insight into how American power dynamics led to the construction of wilderness as a privileged spa ce. This chapter examines epistemological dualisms, epistemological bias es, as well as a spatial theory to supply a theoretical rational e for how conceptual apparatuses served to create and maintain the exclusive space of wilderness. Dualism within the Rec eived Wilderness Idea The RWI draws much of its ideological strength from its emphasis on the separation between wilderness and civilization. This division is based on the more fundamental dualism between nature and humanity. Dualisms have a powerful inf luence on how Americans conceptualize the world because they provide a structure for making sense of the world which is ingra ined in W estern culture. These conceptual divisions are value laden and have concrete consequences. As Sturgeon explains "Western ideological frameworks operate dualistically, separating culture and nature, men and women, white people and people of color, humans and animals, mind and body, rationality and emotion, straight people and queer people these dualisms are value hierar chical, with the first term in the previous list assumed to be superior to the s e c o n d 174 As noted in the previous chapter, some of these established dualisms were flipped as wilderness was embraced in America; as the cultural hubs of cities became suspect, nature was valued more. Yet, the fundamental distinctions 174 NoÂ‘l Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture 9.
75 remain and empower the concept of wilderness, especially when sets of dualisms are aligned so that they work in tandem. This chapter will focus on the following dualisms: nature and civilization, p urity and dirtiness, and white people and people of color. The RWI aligns the first set of terms and associates them with goodness and wilderness, while the second group of words are placed in opposition. Bias against the second grouping of terms led to th e creation of the RWI and reinforces it now that it is established. Nature and Civilization The primary epistemological concept that undergirds the RWI and in turn the contemporary idolization of wilderness, which Chapter V will show often serves as a d iversion from large scale environmental problems, is the presupposition that there is a dualism between nature and humanity. Our technologically and industrially advanced American culture has provided many benefits, but it has also distanced most of us fro m living directly off of the land. Our infrastructure conditions us to exist in spaces that feel very different from wilderness. It is therefore easy to take the contemporary conveniences of civilization for granted and spatially locate human strife in civ ilization, while envisioning wilderness as a pure place that is free of conflict. Consequently, the ability to go to the wilderness and leave the space of the world that humanity has shaped provides a false sense of the planet's well being. While trips to the wilderness could inspire cultivation of a healthier landscape at home, they can also satiate the desire to be around non human things so that there is reduced attention to the social and physical landscape of cities and rural environments. One of the first written critiques of the dualistic RWI is the now classic "Indian Wisdom" written by Chief L uther Standing Bear. The essay articulates how a culture/ nature
76 du alism is baffling to the Lakota and leads the white man to acts of violence. The concept of wilderness is alien to the Lakota who do not posit a separation between humans and the rest of the world. Standing Bear declares: "We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as 'wild.' Only to the white man was nature a 'wilderness' and only to him was the land 'infested' with 'wild' animals and 'savage' people. To us it was t a m e 175 Standing Bear does not conceptually or spiritually create a division between humans and wilderness; the L akota are fully integrated with the landscape. For the Lakota, the land was permeated with a "wild" and uncontrollable force when European colonizers inflicted injustices upon t h e m 176 The Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday likewise expresses how a nature human s chism is not only spiritually and epistemologically unsound, but is also ontologically impossible. He writes: "None of us lives apart from the land entirely; such an isolation is u n i m a g i n a b l e 177 Momaday's words serve as a reminder that humans are forever d ependent upon the land and that we necessarily have a relationship with it, no matter how much time we may spend in concrete buildings. Standing Bear and Momaday provide two examples of Indigenous insights into world views that stress an interconnection be tween the earth and humans which is conducive to ecological sustainability. Lakota and Kiowa beliefs also show that a Western division between nature and humanity is not a universal concept, and that the RWI is merely a single powerful yet flawed way to un derstand our relationship to American wilderness. 175 Chief Luther Standing Bear, "Indian Wisdom," in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 201. 176 Ibid. 177 N. Scott Momaday, "An American Land Ethic," in The Man Made of Words (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997), 47.
77 To determine how the nature/ humanity dualism within the RWI functions, it is necessary to place it in a more specific conceptual framework. From a social constructionist perspective, the RWI can be consid ered a consequence of American values that embrace industry and capitalist hierarchy, which in turn influence the spatial arrangement of America's land and people. Although the RWI founders conceived of wilderness as an antidote to industrialization, wilde rness also provides an escape and means of ignoring the evolving need for us to thoroughly examine the impact of industry; it is easy to ignore the places where industrial waste harms the landscape if one never needs to enter those areas. The clear physica l and symbolic separation between "pristine" wilderness and other spaces of the earth is theoretically justified in many ways. A previous example I have given is of the Calvinist theological division between wilderness and civilization. However, according to Steven Vogel, the division between nature and humanity in the RWI, as well as many contemporary environmentalist concepts of nature which are derivative of it, commonly manifests in two primary ways: nature as origin and nature as difference. Both conce ptions are illogical and prevent a practical and ecologically responsible conception of our relationship to nature. First, nature is often conceptualized as the origin of all life on earth, including humanity; however, the 'artificial' products of humani ty are posited as things that deviate from this original creation and are thus 'unnatural.' Vogel argues that this perspective is implausible because it is impossible to determine the point when human production deviated from being "natural." According to this perspective, a division between nature and human actions must be introduced because otherwise all human products would either have to be a
78 product of nature, or all human products would necessarily defy n a t u r e 178 Therefore, I agree with Vogel that the concept of nature as origin must be rejected in favor of a theory that accepts that human production is "entangled" with nature so "that while we are doubtless nature's product at the same time nature is always already our product t o o 179 Second, nature i s often theorized as difference or as "the name we might give to the otherness of the world, to that which is always left out of any attempt to grasp the world as a whole and bring it entirely to the l i g h t 180 Vogel critiques nature as difference because if nature is something other than us, we can neither know what it is, nor can we theorize about it. Nature becomes a theoretical dead end. A practical and ethical relationship with nature cannot be cultivated from theorizing about that which cannot be k n o w n 181 Both nature as origin and nature as difference rest upon unacceptably enigmatic premises because the relationship between humanity and nature is not logically articulated. The theory of nature as origin leads to the assumption that humanity's products a re artificial and sinister, while nature as difference, or as a complete mystery, is impractical and inaccurate. The former theory puts humans in an impossible conundrum. It also discounts the ways that humans cultivate and improve "natural" landscapes. It plays into the "ecologically naive" flaw in the RWI which overlooks the fact that humans have often aided in improving the health of l a n d s c a p e s 182 The latter theory potentially risks a complete disengagement with nature since it cannot be know n or, at the opposite pole, a dogmatic worship of nature as a 178 Steven Vogel, "Nature as Origin and Difference: On Environmental Theory and Continental Thought," supplement, Philosophy Today 42 (Januar y 1998), 169 171. 179 Ibid, 171. 180 Ibid, 172. 181 Ibid, 173 174. 182 Michael P. Nelson, "Rethinking Wilderness: The Need for a New Idea of Wilderness," 7.
79 god like mystery, hints of which are manifested in the RWI. Both theories promote a human/ nature dualism that is logically flawed and tends to privilege the worship of wilderness while simultaneously diseng aging with the need to care for other "natural" spaces of the earth. Vogel suggests that nature as origin and as difference, respectively, be rejected in favor of nature as practice. In other words, nature can only be understood by our concrete social pr actices and our interactions with i t 183 Nature as practice recognizes that all spaces are socially constructed. It then follows that "there is no deep ontological difference between cities and national parks," the latter of which [commonly] represents the p roblematic "timeless Origin" where Eden seems to still e x i s t 184 This perspective demystifies the RWI and connects the need to protect w ilderness with the need to care for our planet as a whole. Its advantage is that it provides a direct route to confronting the consequences of our actions on the planet. However, I also take issue with this theory of nature because it circumvents the attempt to ontologic ally define nature. It successfully integrates humans with nature, but the full embrace of social constructionsim, which refuses to ontologically or metaphysically define that relationship, leaves the door open for dualistic philosophical theories to fill the void. Yet, Vogel himself hints at a theory that transcends social constructionist boundaries since he concludes his essay by seemingly embracing aspects of the theory of nature as difference. He writes, "the world is made through our activities in it, which is not to say we can make it any way we want or that is entirely us, or ours .nature might be the name we 183 Steven Vogel, "Nature as Origin and Difference: On Environmental Theory and Continental Thought," 17 5 176. 184 Ibid, 176.
80 give to that very c o n c r e t e n e s s 185 Vogel adopts the theory that nature often resists and limits our actions. Here within his theory of pract ice seems to be a statement about nature itself and our relationship to it. What Vogel does not ment ion in his critique of nature as difference is the important distinction between nature as comp l ete mystery or difference, versus defining nature as contai ning an element of difference, i.e. something that is unknown and sometimes resists our actions. Humans ontologically experience difference because individual beings are, at least partially, discrete entities who can never fully know other beings. However just as one can know a long term romantic partner well without ever fully knowing her, it is possible that we can know nature well enough to have an intimate and meaningful relationship with it. Thus, nature is not difference, but rather conta ins element s of difference and mystery. As Vogel notes, the benefit of his perspective is that it recognizes that humans cannot fully control nature and that there are often unseen harmful consequences to our actions, such as climate change. It acknowledges our entan glement with nature on a global level. I will return to a phenomenological account of humans' intimate yet distant relationship with nature in Chapter VI because, as I will argue, it is necessary to define our relationship with nature in orde r to dispel n ature/ humanity dualism. First, however, I will provide further evidence that wilderness is not as "pristine" as the RWI claims it to be. Second, I will explain that it is important to dispel the myth of pristine wilderness because of its conceptualizations as a space of cleanliness, which in turn has racist connotations. Purity and Dirtiness, White and Dark Bodies As previously explained, American wilderness became valued in proportion to the general destruction of American land. This relationship is mirr ored in other parts of the 185 Ibid, 179.
81 world, including Australia where W estern er s also exploited the land upon arrival. Fabienne Bayet writes: "Non Aboriginal society has exploited the land beyond sustainability Wilderness has been idealized as a way to count eract the undesirable element of non Aboriginal c i v i l i z a t i o n 186 Overwhelmingly, Indigenous populations around the globe have a sustain able relationship with the land while W estern populations do not. Western er s have a track record of removing Indigenous pe ople from landscapes that are later labeled wilderness, and then declaring that the land is pristine. Ironically, much of this land is healthy because it had been subject to Indigenous land management practices. Since contemporary wilderness areas and n ational parks are abundant with plants and animals in comparison to other spaces, it is easy t o assume that these places which are currently empty of permanent human habitations exist in a "natural" state that has persisted for centuries. The erasure of In digenous history has contributed to this common misunderstanding; e nvironmentalist perspectives have too. Arturo GÂ—mez Pompa and Andrea Kaus explain: "Traditional conservationist beliefs have generally held that there is an inverse relationship between hum an actions and the well being of the natural e n v i r o n m e n t 187 This perspective seems to arise because many mainstream conservationists direct thei r acrimony towards destructive W estern industrial practices which do harm the land. These practices are of such overwhelming concern that they come to stand for human practices in general. The nature as origin and nature as difference ideologies boost t his 186 Fabienne Bayet "Overturning the Doctrine: Indigenous People and Wilderness Being Aboriginal in the Environmental Movement," 317. 187 Arturo GÂ—mez Pompa and Andrea Kaus, "Taming the Wilderness Myth," in The Great New W ilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 294.
82 perspective so that human interference with the land gains a purely destructive and negative connotation. The recovery of Indigenous history, including oral articulations, can aid in correcting the pristine wilderness myth. GÂ—mez Pompa and Kaus emphasize that contemporary research also reveals land histories. These findings teach us that in parts of the world, the current composition of mature vegetation may well be the legacy of past civilizations, the heritage of cultivated fields of managed forests abandoned hundreds of years ago. Our late realization of the possibility stems from the long held belief that only cleared and planted areas are managed [For example,] [s]lash and burn agriculture has been an integral part of the tropic rainforest ecosystems for m i l e n n i a 188 While it may seem innocuous that many conservationists have an inaccurate underst anding of land cultivation, the collective ignorance is situated within a larger American ideological framework that traditionally is biased on one hand, against Indigenous ways of life and, on the other, against urban places that are associated with envi ronmental and moral corruption. Harvey writes: "We ignore the ideological power of that distinction [between cities and nature] at our own peril since it underlies a pervasive anti urban bias in much ecological r h e t o r i c 189 Wilderness idolization is often linked to a blindness to Indigenous land management and to a suspicion of cities (and oftentimes implicitly to so called inner city dwellers too). These paired biases clearly have racial implications. The intersection among anti urban bias, Indigenous land management bias, and racism is prevalent in the perspectives of John Muir. Muir's degradation of cities is clear, as was noted in his description of San Francisco as being bereft of sane p e o p l e 190 His 188 Ibid, 300, 302. 189 Ha rvey, David, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference 119. 190 John Muir, The Wilderness World of Jo hn Muir: A Selection of His Collected Works 319.
83 unfamiliarity with Nat ive Americans manifests as racism and reveals inconsistencies in his views of Native Americans and wilderness. Kevin DeLuca and Anne Demo write: "Muir is clearly operating from the perspective that Indians are part of nature and not human agents that trans form nature Such an understanding requires Muir to ignore the Native America practice of setting fire to the [Yosemite] meadows, the very practice that creates the pristine, Edenic garden that he c e l e b r a t e s 191 Muir is a preeminent example of a champi on of pristine nature who was willfully ignorant of the interaction between landscapes and Indigenous people. Additionally, Muir's excursions were set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and its aftermath. Although his avoidance of the war was not an endorsement of slavery, Morrison emphasizes that "[n]othing highlighted freedom if it did not in fact create it like s l a v e r y 192 Muir's experience of freedom in the wilderness must have been all the more precious because of its contrast with the specter of slavery. Conceptually, the attributes of freedom and purity ascribed to wilderness are diametrically opposed to the real and metaphoric chains of slavery and society, and to the dirtiness of urban areas. Racial bias, however, also placed Nati ve Americans in the sullied category with other people of color. This conceptual placement of Native Americans who were not city folk proves that these categories have racist undertones. Merchant articulates the connections between environmentalism and racism. She writes: During the same period that John Muir was describing Indians as dirty and unclean, cities were perceived as dirty and polluted With increasing urbanization after the Civil War, many African Americans found themselves living i n segregated areas in 191 Kevin DeLuca and Anne Demo, "Imagining Nature and Erasing Class and Race: Carleton Watkins, John Muir, and the Construction of Wilderness," Environmental History 6, no. 4 (October 2001), 554. 192 Toni Mo rrison, Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination 38.
84 American cities In the minds of many Americans, the valence of wilderness had been reversed. The city became a dark, negatively charged wilderness filled with blacks and southern European immigrants, while mountains, forests, waterfalls, and canyons were viewed as sublime places as white light Sublime nature was white and benign, available to white tourists; cities were portrayed as black and malign, the home of the unclean and the u n d e s i r a b l e 193 The symbolic dichotom y between good and light and white skin, versus evil and darkness and brown and black skin contributes to the concept of wilderness as an exclusive paradise for white, affluent, and morally pure members of society. The narrative of a separation between sullied society and "pure" wilderness where true freedom can be experienced is a conceptual division that was developed by removing brown and black bodies from wilderness and making wilderness a domain where white people could step away from a society "pol luted" by people of color. Philpott recognizes that in the 20th century "[f]ears of excessive urbanization and 'overcivilization' began to push elite leisure tastes towards more rustic settings and active p u r s u i t s 194 This historical account of an increased interest in wilderness is not inaccurate, but it also does not explicitly acknowledge that "urbanization" is a code word for the fear that people of color are infringing on white neighborhoods, nor does it link 20th century patterns to 19th century exclus ionary racial practices. Elites had a predisposition before the 20th century to favor outdoor settings because the settings had already been cleared of people of color and made available for elite white enjoyment. Philpott's critique represents a common om ission of racial awareness within much of wilderness criticism. Conversely, Jake Kosek writes that the "impulse to create and protect national wilderness areas flowed directly from the preconceived need to differentiate and protect the 'pure' form the 'pol luted,' the 'natural' from 193 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 385. 194 William Philpott, Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country 15.
85 the 'unnatural.' The result was that racial and class fears surrounding purity and degradation became a primary means through which wilderness and the environment became d i s c e r n a b l e 195 The wish to experience the purity of nature was initially framed in direct relation to the desire to establish and promote a white space that is void of "dirty" people of color. I do not mean to imply that the creation of wilderness and positive wilderness experiences are only dependent upon revelin g in being in an exclusionary space, but rather that it is problematic to overlook that wilderness enjoyment is linked to the domination of people of color. While the account of dualism within the RWI, and within this thesis in general, is focused upon c ritiquing the dominant American conception of wilderness, the dualism between freedom and slavery (with the latter emphasizing and often enabling the former, as Morrison notes) is a serious indicator that it is essential to underscore that alternative wild erness perspectives especially of people of color seriously deviate from the RWI. Strong condem nations of the RWI show that there are many American voices that counter the dominant conception of wilderness. I weave bits of Indigenous perspectives throug hout this work as a reminder of how Native Americans did and do interact with the land. In the following section, I will also touch upon African American perspectives since early white American wilderness experiences had heightened value at the expense of those who were enslaved. Although the space of this thesis does not truly do justice to either of these viewpoints, I believe that brief insight into them does provide some counterbalance to problematic wilderness views. 195 Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006), 155.
86 Critical Interruptions: African A merican Wilderness Perspectives While the legacy of the RWI encourages many Americans to have a view of wilderness that omits shameful parts of its creation, Americans who have not traditionally been welcomed into the wilderness community may have drastic ally different perspectives. Kosek provides a forceful example of how wilderness can be viewed from such an alternative historical perspective. He writes: The wilderness sanctuaries Muir held so dear were not, as he believed, simply 'created by god'; they were created by the U.S. cavalry, armed with the nineteenth century authority of manifest destiny Though he depicted it otherwise, John Muir's unblemished wilderness was, in fact, a space of violent, racially driven dispossession, one of a series of removals, massacres, and impoverishments that had reduced the Native American population in California from 250,000 to 16,000 within half a century. These brutal acts created the conditions not only for the 'wild' Sierra that Muir and others e xalted so passionately but also the 'solemn calm' they unapologetically experienced t h e r e 196 This account of historical events associated with wilderness represents the view of wilderness that people of color, and especially Native Americans, may have. It is markedly divergent from the wilderness descriptions provided by the RWI founders. The freedom that wilderness represents according to the RWI may seem natural to many Americans, but for others the association is abhorrent. The concept of freedom is the quintessential American value, but it does not have the same connotation for everyone. Merchant quotes Robert Bullard who declares: "'The nation was founded on the principles of 'free land (stolen from Native Americans and Mexicans), 'free labor' (cruell y extracted from African slaves), and 'free men' (white men with p r o p e r t y ) 197 Americans have never experienced an equal enjoyment of freedom. Oftentimes, the freedom of some Americans is procured at the expense of others. In 196 Ibid, 156. 197 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 384.
87 America, the granting of freed om has been disproportionately given to those raced as white, and freedom has been defined by white interests. African Americans were enslaved and then subject ed to severe limitations to their freedom in comparison with white Americans when the RWI and d ominant white wilderness conservationist ethics were developing. In "What is Africa to Me? Wilderness in Black Thought, 1860 1930," Kimberly K. Smith looks at the relationship between landscape and African American identity within this particular timeframe Smith accounts for concep tual and practical definitions of wilderness. Conceptually, for slaves of West African descent, the unsettled "bush" was somewhat equated with the W estern concept of wilderness. "The bush" is a spiritually significant place, whic h does signal a similarity to the R W I 198 Smith examines several other thre ads of African American thought and notes that though African cultures are religiously diverse, the majority of them attribute spiritual meaning to n a t u r e 199 Additionally, the influence of Christian imagery reinforced the belief that human morality is linked to the wellness of the physical landscape. Political and literary works of the black intellectual tradition stressed this relationship between identity an d land, which is "mediated" by communal m e m o r y 200 In the 1920s, the concept of "Black primitivism" developed and held that the tropical wilderness of Africa, as well as the Southern American wilderness, provides a source of creative energy and culture to African Americans who each have a deep connection to the landscape. This unique relationship to the land gives people of African descent a "wilderness within, an untamed vital energy that derives from and connects one to the external wilderness 198 Kimberly K. Smith, "What is Africa to Me? Wilderness in Black Thought, 1860 1930," Environmental Ethics 27, no. 3 (Fall 2005), 282. 199 Ibid, 281 282. 200 Ibid, 281.
88 in which th e race o r i g i n a t e d 201 This concept of a transfer of the energy from wilderness into individuals interestingly squares with the RWI. However, this idea also has strong ties to scientific racism and artistic primitivism that embrace racial essentialism and ar e counter to the fact that race is a social c o n s t r u c t 202 Support of black primitivism ideologies, which have white supremacist foundations, were criticized by black activists. 203 Nevertheless, the concept of wilderness as a place that is void of permanent hum an structures and that has spiritual significance is analogous within African American and European American world views. On a practical level, American wilderness, as conceived of as an unpopulated place, was, and perhaps still is, principally considered a hostile environment for African Americans. For example, Smith explains that for slaves, the horrors of plantation life were similar to the possible horrors of the wilderness, since the latter was an unknown and forbidden p l a c e 204 After emancipation, Amer ica was racially segregated, and it remains so today in many ways. At the turn of the nineteen century, W.E. B. Du Bois emphasized that African Americans did not have the same freedom of movement as whites. It was risky to move away from African American n eighborhoods. To move elsewhere was to be "alone, shunned and taunted, stared at and u n c o m f o r t a b l e 205 Navigating the city was c hallenging. Smith notes that one champion of individualism Booker T. Washington even "recognized that blacks did not have to te st themselves against mountains and forests; the social environment provided 201 Ibid. 202 Ibid, 292, 289, 296. 203 Ibid, 296. 204 Ibid, 284. 205 W.E. B. Du Bois, "The Environment of the Negro," in T he Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1899), 297.
89 enough c h a l l e n g e s 206 The farther away one went from black social spaces, the more dangerous and unsettling it became. To venture into the white space of wilderness, then, was prac tically unthinkable. Christopher Martin argues that this lack of true freedom of spatial movement remains in tact today because African Americans are still more likely to confront resistance to their presence when they enter unfamiliar environments. Since wilderness is primarily a white space, it is likely to be perceived by non whites as an unknown potentially hazardous p l a c e 207 American wilderness is both socially coded as white because the "outdoor leisure activity identity" is racially coded as white, a nd because of the history of the physical danger of wilderness space for people of c o l o r 208 Wilderness is not associated with freedom for these Americans because of America's violent history Martin states that studies "show, fairly consistently, that White s respond more favorably to densely wooded areas with fewer facilities, while Blacks prefer natural environments that are more open and maintained with more structures and a m e n i t i e s 209 There is a direct connection between outdoor leisure activity preferenc e and concern for physical safety. A history of avoiding wilderness understandably led to a lack of comfort in places without facilities. In the 1920s, a place in Colorado called Lincoln Hills provided a safe environment for African Americans to have ple asurable experiences away from cities and towns. According to the account provided by Trevor Hughes Lincoln Hills located an hour west of Denver, was billed as an African American mountain resort that was established during the 206 Kimberly K. Smith, "What is Africa to Me? Wilderness in Black Thought, 1860 1930," 288. 207 Derek Christopher Martin, "Apartheid in the Great Outdoors: Ame rican Advertising and the Reproduction of a Racialized Outdoor Leisure Identity," 529 530. 208 Ibid, 514. 209 Ibid, 517.
90 period of segregation and Ku Klux Klan a t t a c k s 210 The environment of Lincoln Hills satisfies Martin's claim that peace of mind is gathered from welcoming social spaces, and Du Bois' assertion that African America n s' comfort depends upon the safety of unified communities. Hughes quo tes the journalist James Edwards Mills who declares that in the 1920s Lincoln Hills was the only place west of the Mississippi that if you were a person of color, you could recreate safely o u t d o o r s 211 This striking statement stresses that one reason why African Americans do not visit wilderness in high numbers is because their ancestors could not visit it. For many people of color, wilderness is neither a place of freedom nor of pleasure because it represents a painful, contested, and traditionally forbid den and dangerous terrain. Moreover, Smith writes that in the ninetieth and twentieth centuries black intellectuals were likely not oppo sed to wilderness conservation but were indifferent or circumspect towards it because "it showed little interest in chal lenging the segregationist policies that made the nation's parks inaccessible to many b l a c k s 212 In the latter half of the second decade of the twenty first century, wilderness advocates are only beginning to critique the treatment of people of color and to make wilderness a more inclusive space. It is my hope that this thesis is a small contribution to honoring the experiences and perspectives of Americans of color in regard to wilderness, and to encourage the American wilderness community to expand its mem bership while accepting that environmental justice must include social justice. 210 Trevor Hughes, "Lincoln Hills Offered Resort for African Americans Visiting Colorado," USA Today February, 12, 2016, https://www.usat oday.com/story/news/nation now/2016/02/13/lincoln hills resort african americans visiting colorado/78260774/ 1. 211 Ibid, my emphasis. 212 Kimberly K. Smith, "What is Africa to Me? Wilderness in Black Thought, 1860 1930," 297.
91 Racialized Epistemology and Intentional Invisibility The RWI a nd its contemporary iterations omit na rratives that run counter to it while promoting dualisms that maintain w ilderness as a privileged space. Wilderness is, as I have shown, a human concept. Since "epistemology of things does not equal things in themselves or direct perceptions of them," our accounts of wilderness are necessarily shaded with particular, non unive rsal p e r s p e c t i v e s 213 More to the point, epistemology is developed within the context of power and social relationships. My interrogation of wilderness is thus directed towards considering how wilderness is const ructed in relation to hierarchical social categories, and especially race. The concept of wilderness is shaped by members of society who enjoy privilege that is structurally protected by the laws and social practices of our country. Mills writes that most dominant conceptual frameworks ar e constructed from the perspectives of those who are in p o w e r 214 Nature is a preeminent tool of power, and wilderness is the zenith of the natural. Sturgeon articulates what many other scholars also do regarding the conceptual power of nature, writing that "calling something 'natural' places it in an area of truth, inevitability, and immutability, beyond the reach of social criticism and democratic d i a l o g u e 215 Designated wilderness is certainly valuable, but the decision t o it preserve ought not fall pre y to the appeal to the nature fallacy and preclude criticism. Moreover, while philosophical epistemology is tasked with uncovering biases and assumptions within knowledge systems, it is important to remember that the field of philosophy remains dominated by wh ite people so that the starting point for epistemological inquiry must be self 213 David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology 94. 214 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," 25. 215 NoÂ‘l Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture 19.
92 reflection and an awareness of raced b i a s 216 This whiteness of philosophy is one of the reasons why critiques of the spatial privilege of wilderness have been slow to manifest. It is essential to recognize how whiteness a learned knowledge system of racial discourse that views white epis temology and those raced as neutral and normative shapes the concept of wilderness since wilderness visitors are primarily white. Whiteness i s not equ ated with being raced as white and can in fact be embraced by non whites. However, there is a strong correlation between being white and embracing whiteness since whiteness bolsters white racial power. Mills argues that individual and group intere sts orient cognition, "influencing what and how we see, what we chose to remember, whose testimony is solicited and whose is not, and which facts and frameworks are sought out and a c c e p t e d 217 Accordingly, it can be assumed that white wilderness visitors ha ve a different collective memory than non white wilderness visitors. The degree of whiteness within one's thinking plays a role in determining one's attitude towards wilderness. Therefore, the general collective mentality of white wilderness visitors is ge ared towards "generating and sustaining white ignorance," since this ignorance maintains racial e x c l u s i v i t y 218 The dominance of the RWI signals that there is a wide spread ignorance within the wilderness community of the fa ct that wilderness is exclusive a nd that exclusionary practices are happening. Sun Hee Park and Naguib Pellow explain that seeming blindness to racial and social domination and exclusion is "shrouded in the innocence of w h i t e n e s s 219 The implicit assumption that unpopulated land is empty s pace is an example of so called white innocence, 216 Terrance MacMullan "Facing Up to Ignorance and Privilege: Philosophy as Whiteness in Public Intellectualism," Philo sophy Compass 10, no. 9 (2015), 648. 217 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," 24. 218 Ibid, 34. 219 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 199.
93 and it is crucial for maintaining wilderness spatial privilege. The invisibility of privilege (to those who are privileged) allows those who enjoy wilderness to "easily fool themselves into thinking that suc h simple pleasures are a universal part of life, available to e v e r y o n e 220 Pure and purifying wilderness experiences are often considered to be especially untainted because save for clothing, gas and time elements that are in fact prohibitively expensive for some people they are free of cost. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that if asked why there are not many people of color in the wilderness, white people will usually note the financial cost of exploring it, financial accessibility is also used to further the myth that wilderness is a space of freedom in general. Advancing a discourse that wilderness is equally accessible to everyone, both socially and economically, functions to maintain the invisibility of white supremacy and privilege because it exalt s the identities of wilderness advocates while hiding the histories and experiences of people of color. Epistemology shrouded in whiteness often produces a world view that contains a double and interdependent invisibility. On one hand, white privileg e is made invisible, and on the other, people of color and their perspectives are hidden. In the fields of Critical Race Theory and Critical Whiteness Studies, it is commonly held that white privilege, as described by Martha R. Mahoney, "includes the abili ty to not see wh iteness and its privileges 'Race' itself comes to mean 'Other' or B l a c k 221 A consequence of white people's unawareness of their own racial positionality is that they view their own experience s and perspectives not as raced, but as u niversal. The myth that wilderness is equally accessible to all able bodied adults is a function of the invisibility of privilege. When a conception of wilderness is 220 Ibid, 204. 221 Martha R. Mahoney, "T he Social Construction of Whiten ess," i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic  ( Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1997), 331.
94 informed by unreflective privilege, room for alternative perspectives is limited. Moreover if white wilderness visitors see themselves as normative and non raced, they are unlikely to notice that wilderness space overwhelming lacks visitors of color. "What people of color quickly come to see in a sense the primary epistemic principle of the racialized social epistemology of which they are the object is that they are not seen at all," writes M i l l 222 Whiteness and white privilege erase consciousness of people of color (or of their non presence) and erase their experiences from the physical and conceptual space of wilderness. Likewise, the set of dualisms including nature huma nity, white non white, and pure/ dirty which reinforce the RWI, work so that wilderness advocates are conscious of the association of the privileged terms with wildernes s, yet seemingly unconscious that their oppositions are conceptually linked to black and brown people. Lefebvre's Spatial Theory: An Unmasking of the Spatial Privilege of Wilderness Wilderness is particularly susceptible to a white epistemology of double invisibility because of its construction of an empty space. The simple fact that wilderness is now empty of permanent human habitation enables knowledge about the past to be forgotten. Mills argues that if collective memories of past violence is forgotte n, it is because of "the success of a self transforming white supremacy in rewriting the terms of public discourse so that white domination is now conceptually i n v i s i b l e 223 In wilderness, white domination's conceptual invisibility is reinforced by its visu al invisibility. A lack of visibility of reminders of the history of wilderness construction enables the erasing of colonial history. Mills and Leonardo both stress that a function of white privilege is lack of critical reflection and the 222 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," 18. 223 Charles W. Mills, Global White Supremacy," 125.
95 failure to ask qu estions about why places such as wilderness are the way that they a r e 224 I will argue that conceptions of space, which are constructed by dominant (racially biased) epistemology, are a significant and often overlooked means of controlling the questions that communities ask or do not ask. First, however, I will briefly explain why I began this thesis using the lens of place, and why I now turn to spatial analysis. Place Versus Space As was shown in Chapter II, one means of controlling knowledge is the const ruction of p l a c e 225 Wilderness can be critiqued through a place studies lens that examines the relationship be tween meaning and power. The pre ceeding sections of this thesis have in fact examined wilderness as locations designated by the U.S. government whi ch have been shaped by an ideology of dominance It is fairly common for scholars to use the lens of place to explore the meaning of particular locations. However, in order to justify using the concept of place over the concept of space, space is relegated to a simple definition. For example, though Edward S. Casey has made valuable contributions to the fields of geography and place studies, particularly in regards to the connection between the body and place, his description of space is limiting. He writes: "I shall presume the importance of the distinction between place and space, taking 'space' to be the encompassing volumetric void in which things (including human beings) are positioned and 'place' to be the immediate environment of my lived body an arena of action that is at once physical and historical, and social and 224 Zeus Leonardo, Race, Whiteness, and Education 125; Charles W. Mills, "Global White Supremacy," 125. 225 In Chapter II, place was defined as a discrete location "invested with meaning in the context of power."
96 c u l t u r a l 226 Commonly space is considered to be an abstract void, and place is defined as locations that have meaning. Thus, as Creswell notes, space and place largely have become dualistic t e r m s 227 The problem with defining space as a void is that it requires an embrace of the tenet that space is a physical area that simply exists. This is an unacceptable critical position because it is erroneous to claim that voids exist (particu larly on earth). Voids do not exist because it is impossible for human beings to envision any place or space without attributing a minimal amount of preconceived knowledge or meaning to it. It could be argued that academic and lay conceptions of space aris e from th e dominance of scientific world views which conceive of space in mathematical terms. However, I will show that the continued widespread failure to examine the concept of space is a function of white epistemology that aims to conceal how domination functions. I began my examination of wilderness as place because I wanted to establish how wilderness is commonly understood so that I might explain the dr aw and popularity of wilderness and deconstruct the RWI. Yet, in order to fully understand the concep t of wilderness, it is now necessary to position it within a spatial framework. The Application of Lefebvre's Spatial Triad to Wilderness Henri Lefebvre's spatial theory has tremendous potential for illuminating how a dominant epistemology conceals the h istory of wilderness creation and maintains exclusivity because its tripartite structure reveals how the normative concept of space is a tool of power. To elucidate how a privileged strata of society who values particular experiences in nature dominates t he space of the Colorado wilderness, it is necessary to illustrate in detail that 226 Edward S. Casey, "Between Geography and Philosophy: What Does it Mean to Be in the Place World?" Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91, no. 4 (December 2001), 683. 227 Tim Cresswell, Place: A Short Introduction 10.
97 first, wilderness is not empty space since space itself is not a void, and second, that wilderness is nevertheless commonly constructed as empty. As Lefebvre articulates it, space is produced by humans and consists of several layers. Lefebvre writes that one can conceive of space as encompassing a "conceptual triad" that contains overlapping concepts. The first concept is "spatial practice," which refers to locations that are produced by a particular society and perceived by that society to be the areas where specific actions or mental activities take place. The second concept is "representations of space," which alludes to public codes that are conceived and conceptualized by the members of society who attach signs, such as architectural blueprints, to specific locations. The third concept is "representational space." This term relates to spaces as they are conceived of symbolically, or on an often unspoken level of understand ing and lived in e x p e r i e n c e 228 Following Lefebvre, I contend that wilderness, as well as nature, is not an inherently meaningless space to which an individual can arbit rarily assign his own meaning 229 Instead, wilderness is socially coded before individuals personally conceive of it or step foot within it. Lefebvre's theoretical understanding of space is useful for understanding how the space of Colorado's wilderness is produced. Particular forms of physical movement, such as hiking, coupled with the basic goal of enjoying one's surroundings, the latter of which greatly overlaps with representational space, corresponds to Lefebvre's concept of "spatial practice." In other words, entering wilderness with an understanding and undertaking of the activities that are socially appropriate for that space can be considered the everyday practice of that space, as can the use of trail systems. A map designating wilderness boundaries and hiking 228 Henri Lefebvre The Production of Space trans. Donald Nicholson Smith (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2013), 33, 38 39 229 Nature, like wilderness, is conventionally defined in a dominant discourse as that which is not inherently produced by humans and is thus the dichotomou s opposite of culture.
98 trails is an example of how "representations of space" can be applied to wil derness space. Finally, "representational space" aligns closely with an adherence to wilderness culture because it encompasses the ways in which space is rendered meaningful. The feeling of freedom while backcountry skiing, for example, is symbolically ass ociated with the wilderness. Wilderness space is clearly composed of "physical," "mental," and "social" layers which are intertwined and must remain theoretically unified to accurately understand how the space functions as a w h o l e 230 Wilderness cannot exist as a concept or as a concrete reality without it having specific physical uses, mapped boundaries, and social meanings. Wilderness visitor s clearly have an idea of what spatial practices are appropriate in the wilderness and of where wilderness areas can be found. Th ey also seem to be aware of what "wild" places mean to them. Yet, a disconnect exists because most visitors display a disregard for the history of how wilderness has been socially coded, and for how supposedly assigning their own meaning through the medium of contemporary social media, for example reinforces the exclusionary history of wilderness space while a lso creating novel ways of perpetuating the discourse of exclusion. Lefebvre's contention that space is usually considered to be a given, as a void to be filled, explains why wilderness is able to be erroneously considered to be an empty area where one c an experience personal freedom. He writes that the production of social space is "concealed" by a "double illusion" of "transparency" and r e a l i s m 231 Space appears deceptively transparent because of the false belief that being able to physically view space gives one direct and complete knowledge of space. Lefebvre writes: "The illusion of transparency goes hand in hand with a view of space as innocent, as free of traps or secret 230 Ibid, 11. 231 Ibid, 27.
99 p l a c e s 232 The basic implication here is that if people cannot view physical evi dence of socially constructed meaning upon mountainous landscapes, it is as if the mountainous space is empty of social meaning. Furthermore, Lefebvre writes that "a rough coincidence is assumed to exist between social space on the one hand and mental spac e the (topological) space of thoughts and utterances on the o t h e r 233 This alignment leads to the privileging of mental space and the concealment of social space. Eventually, "the spoken and written word are taken for (social) practice." 234 This conflatio n of social and mental space explains the disconnect between a wilderness community that declares that the mountains are an egalitarian space for everyone to enter, versus spatial practice that reveals that the wilderness community is predominately white a nd bourgeois. What is overlooked is that verbally welcoming people of color, for example, into the mountains is not sufficient to make people of color feel welcomed because spatial practice in the mountains, i.e. the racial demographic of those who enter the wilderness, runs counter the claim of welcoming diversity. The visual lack of non white bodies in the wilderness is ignored because of the rhetoric of inclusivity. Whites can overlook the lack of people of color because of the invisibility of whiteness ; whites do not actively reflect upon race when surround by other whites, but suddenly seem to become racially conscious when people of color are p r e s e n t 235 Coupled with the transparency illusion is the "realistic illusion" of space. The realistic illusion is "the mistaken belief that 'things' have more of an existence than the s u b j e c t 236 This illusion creates the 232 Ibid, 28. 233 Ibid. 234 Ibid. 235 In "The Matter of Whiteness," Richard Dyer explains that whiteness is invisible because it permeates dominant (white) society so that white people are considered the huma n norm. 236 Ibid, 29.
100 false belief that for humans, space existed "naturally" before humans in some objective state, and that space was later imbued with meaning. Lef ebvre argues, instead, that because humans are physical beings imbedded in space, it is impossible to be "in" a space that is void of meaning; we cannot fully conceive of pre human objective space. This perspective roughly aligns with a rejection of the th eory of nature as origin. Yet, is also important to recall that meaning (mental space) does not fully create a space, but works in tandem with spatial practice. It is easy to perpetuate a rhetoric of socially empty wilderness space without the recognition that space is not a natural thing to be filled. Lefebvre's concept of the operation of a "double illusion" of transparent and realistic illusions permits wilderness to be construed as a space whose meaning can be easily deduced, and as a space where that m eaning is simply equated with a "natural," socially empty space. The dominant viewpoint that wilderness is a place where society is kept at bay, which is possible because of Lefebvre's "double illusion," is not an accidental occurrence but is rather the consequence of those with power using spatial dynamics to their advantage. Lefebvre writes that since "([s]ocial) space is a (social) product the space thus produced also serves as a tool of thought and of action; that in addition to being a means of production it is also a means of control and hence of domination, of p o w e r 237 All spaces are imbued with power dynamics. None are innocent, and wilderness space in America has been tied to the maintenance of white supremacist patriarch al power since our country's inception. Wilderness boundaries evolved from initial expulsions of Native Americans by the United States government. Park and Pellow write "that the myth of the empty land is at the root of what undergrids nativist environmen t alism in the United States today. It is what authorizes 237 Ibid, 26.
101 European Americans to continue occupying Native American land, and is precisely that which facilitates the exclusive access to spaces of environmental privilege throughout this c o u n t r y 238 Nativist en vironmentalism functions so that Americans of European origin who have not recently immigrated to the United States may lay claim to landscapes based on the false tenet that European Americans were the first to "discover" American wilderness, and thus have the sole right to imbue the "empty" landscapes with their own values and meaning. The ability to have the power and privilege to view the wilderness as empty is disguised by the "double illusion" so that the violent history of the United Stat es governmen t is hidden. Kosek contends that there is a direct link between the violent establishment of wilderness and the current perspective that wilderness is a place of freedom, exposing the extreme cost that has been exacted for wilderness culture to f l o u r i s h 239 John Muir, whose nature writing and status as an early environmentalist continues to be worshiped, not least of all on the social media platform Instagram where his quotes often comple ment nature photography, knew that he gained his peaceful mountain expe rience by subjugating othe rs as his writings exhibit. Muir explicitly approved of benefiting from violence towards people of color and his eloquent descriptions of experiencing nature were predicated on the belief that only white men truly possessed an "enlightened appreciation for the majestic grandeur of the m o u n t a i n s 240 In isolation, Muir's words are po etically moving descri ptions of experiences of nature. Yet, it is not a coincidence that wilderness advocates today reproduce his words so that positive experiences in wilderness are articulated and the history of 238 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden ( Seattle: University of Washington Pre ss, 2013), 130 31. 239 Jake Kosek, Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico 156. 240 Ibid, 155.
102 wilderness creation is masked. The language that was used to ex press the sole prerogative of white people to marvel at open spaces is used by those who are currently privileged to falsely imply that wilderness is a space of freedom because it lacks a historic socially constructed meaning. When Muir is quoted on social media and elsewhere including, for example, the welcoming sign for Mammoth Lakes California the unawareness of Muir's racist viewpoints serves to reproduce spaces of whiteness and exclusion. Conclusion Lefebvre's account of the production of spa ce e mphasizes that the ways which a culture theorizes space is deeply impactful because theorization cannot be severed from spatial pr actice, nor from constructions of meaning. Each culture's production of space orients its world view. Harvey and Abrams, respe ctively, explain that, like all frameworks, a culture's spatial orientation provides a limited view of reality, enhancing some "properties of the world," while enshrouding o t h e r s 241 Disparate spatial frameworks, such as those between European colonizers an d various Native American tribes, contribute to conflict. For example, "colonists had a Cartesian vision of fixed property rights, of boundaries in abstract s p a c e 242 Since Native American tribes have concepts of space that incorporate spiritual and physica l space, Western spatial frameworks were fundamentally incompatible with those already established in the "new" world. In Colorado W estern concepts of space were used to justify the removal of Ute's from their homelands and to draw boundaries that exclude d them from the space of the mountains. 241 Ha rvey, David, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference 264; David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology 89. 242 Ha rvey, David, Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference 265.
103 To recognize how the space of the Colorado wilderness is epistemologically produced, is to recognize that it is imbued with power dynamics which can explain why it is an exclusive space. The notion that wilderness i s an "empty" space is a warning signal that a practice of concealment exists. Nast and Pile stress that space must be considered integral to political struggle and resistanc e. The politics of space must augment the politics of p l a c e 243 The concept of spatia l privilege imparts the reality that the concept of wilderness with all of its epistemological and symbolic weight, the mapped boundaries of wilderness, and the social space of wilderness work together to produce an exclusive realm. Spatial dynamics dictat e who is wanted or unwanted, who feels comfortable or uncomfortable, in w i l d e r n e s s 244 Since statistics show that white and moneyed Americans visit wilderness the most and thus presumably feel the most welcome in that space, the next chapter of this thesis w ill elucidate how the incorporation of spatial concealment and epistemological dualism and bias into the RWI work in tandem with American racial and class dynamics. It will be shown that wilderness, and general environmental inequality, especially, can not be significantly reimagined without changes to America's social structure. 243 Heidi J. Nast and Steve Pile, "Everyday Places Bodies," in Places Through the Body ed. Heidi J. and Steve Pile (London: Routledge, 1998), 413, 412. 244 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 116; Zeus Leonardo, Race, Whiteness, and Education 112 113.
104 CHAPTER V ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENT Introduction: Spatial Privilege The spatial concealment of the power dynamics that are inherent in wil derness is part of the global framework of spatial privilege that often disguises itself. The concept of geographical uneven development, established primarily by Neil Smith and David Harvey who draw their theories from Marxism, exposes how environmental, and thus wilderness, space is linked to economic inequality. Scholarship from the fields of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) further illuminates how economic and racial inequality are intimately bound. These frameworks, alo ng with relatively recent trends in the humanities towards examining the intersectionality of race, class, and gender have contributed to the creation of the interdisciplinary field and political movement of second wave environmental justice. Second wave environmental justice examines how social categories such as class and race are connected to the physical health of th e planet. Julie Sze emphasizes that it arose in the 1980s in response to the concept of environmental racism, which describes how environmental benefits and hazards are unequally distributed based on r a c e 245 Uneven Development Wilderness is a space of en vironmental privilege because it is largely free of pol lutants and is accessed primarily by a white and affluent segment of the population. 245 Julie Sze, Noxious New York: The Raci al Politics of Urban Health and Environmental Justice ( Cambridge: The MIT Press 2007), 13.
105 Sun Hee Park and Naguib Pellow define environmental privilege as "the exercise of economic, political, and cultural power that some groups enjoy, which enables them exclusive access to coveted political amenities such as forests, parks, mountains, rivers, coastal property, open lands, and elite neighborhoods which are protected from the kinds of ecological harm t hat other groups are forced to contend with e v e r y d a y 246 The main claim of environmental justice advocates is that environmental privilege cannot exist without environmental injustice because the privilege of some depends upon the work and exposure to hazar ds of others. Sun Hee Park and Naguib Pellow write that "the disconnection between the way of life in a place like Aspen, and the social and environmental relationships that make that lifestyle possible" are what fuels environmental p r i v i l e g e 247 In other wo rds, the connection between privilege and disadvantage is concealed in non polluted environments. The seeming invisibility of the social dynamics of wilderness lends a particular blindness to how wilderness visits are interwoven in the web of both global i nequality, and of an increasingly unhealthy planet experiencing climate change. The benefit of an uneven development radical geography approach to wilderness is that it rejects dualism between wilderness and civilization and thus coheres with a Lefebvre inspired account of wilderness space, holding that social space cannot be severed from physical space. As Neil Smith articulates it, uneven development results because the processes of capitalism not only impact but actually form the space of the entire g lobe. Consequently, "nature," both physically and conceptually, is shaped by capitalism. Since the industrial revolution, capitalism has greatl y physically altered the planet as well as 246 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 4. 247 Ibid, 11.
106 configured our conceptions of what nature is and what it means to us. Since capitalism produces hierarchical social classes, the health of landscapes becomes unequal. The dominant conception of nature is also produced by the dominant social c l a s s 248 Since capital both monetary and social is invested or withdrawn from part icular spaces, it follows that American wilderness, which is in relative excellent physical health and conceptualized a desirable space, is currently infused with c a p i t a l 249 From this perspective, it is clear why wilderness visitors are primarily affluent a nd white because these visitors are the ones who are socially dominant in our global capitalist system. Smith writes: "Uneven development is social inequality blazoned into the geographical landscape, and it is simultaneously the exploitation of that geogr aphical unevenness for certain socially determined e n d s 250 The physical wellness of wilderness land correctly classifies it as a location where the demographics of visitors is greatly skewed towards affluence. Again, it is shown that wilderness is produced for the benefit of those whom are privileged and control space. Environmental Justice The contemporary environmental justice movement recognizes the occurrenc e of uneven development as fact and as the enemy of social equality and the health of our plane t. Uneven development is maleficent because the well being of the global ecosystem is depende nt upon cultivating a far more even "development" of nature. Thus, environmentalism and capitalism are in fundamental opposition. The concept of a "green" 248 Neil Smith, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and The Production of Space ( Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1984 ), 7, 8, 10, 28. 249 As of 2017, The Trump Administration's review and shrinkage of National Monuments, such as Bears Ears in Utah, signals that designated wilderness may not always be valued by those who have the most capital. 250 Neil Smith, Uneven Development: Nature, Capit al, and The Production of Space 206.
107 capitali sm is ludicrous because capitalism inherently has the end goal of the accumulation of w e a l t h 251 Capitalism is a system that is built upon the premise of inequality and injustice because capital, not the well being of humans or the planet, is the highest goo d. In opposition, the environmental justice movement advocates for the dignity of humans. However, the argument that environmental justice hinges upon social justice is not only a moral argument, but a practical one. Extreme uneven development is not, and cannot be, sustainable. To combat uneven development, eco justice requires justice for the overall health of earth, but also for people of color, for women, and for the economically disadvantaged. It thus requires the "redistribution of wealth through th e redistribution of environmental goods and s e r v i c e s 252 It requires a reorganization of space. Wilderness is an environmental good that serves as a preeminent example of a location that can be used to understand uneven development. Wilderness is also a spa ce where the cultivation of inclusivity might provide an entry point f or a societal understanding of the need to remedy uneven development. Activists, including members of communities of color, and politicians who might engage with underprivileged American s to cultivate wilderness visits and enjoyment could have the potential to alter the social landscape of wilderness. They may also raise the awareness of those who are privileged so that they see that their access to the coveted environmental good of wild erness is tied to privilege and thus to its flip side oppression. 251 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 15. 252 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 390.
108 Environmental Racism The act of visiting wilderness denotes some environmental privilege, even if it is only the ability to spend a couple of hours in a relatively unpolluted space. Many disadvantaged Americans never leave polluted environments. The ability to avoid environmental hazards is environmental privilege. Conversely, environmental injustice and environmental racism describe the fact that many members of the working class, th e working poor, and people of color, face a "disproportionate volume" of environmental hazards, including "waste incinerators, garbage dumps, coal fired plants, polluting manufacturing facilities, toxic schools, occupationally hazardous workplaces, substan dard housing, uneven impacts of climate change, and the absence of healthy food s o u r c e s 253 Environmental racism is the main focus of environmental inequality because people of color are often those who are also the working poor and most economically and so cially disadvantaged. Moreover, eco justice advocates activists, and scholars recognize that the issue of race has historically been the subject that mainstream environmentalist have failed to address. The racial demographic disparity of wilderness visito rs is proof that there is extreme environmental racial inequality, y et economic class rather than race, has been the main focus of scholars who critique wilderness. First Wave Eco Criticism's Failure to See As discussed in Chapter III, the colonial history of America means that wilderness was created in a racist society. Racism (and sexism) has "not been the exception but the n o r m 254 Yet, the first wave of eco criticism solely focused on the preservation of n atural 253 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 2 3. 254 Charles W. Mills, "White Ignorance," 17.
109 spaces and of wilderness. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s, that the second wave of eco criticism developed and recognized that wilderness was shaped by "racial exclusion," and also that our very cognition of wilderness is shaped by our racial p o s i t i o n a l i t y 255 Wilderness was initially not subject to a racial critique because eco critics were almost exclusively white males. White privilege gave them the ability to ignore race. Critics could ignore the history of colonization from which they benefit ed. They had the privilege to "undervalue nature that is closer to home and perhaps more biologically significant," and to neglect "transnational perspectives" which take the full picture of uneven development into a c c o u n t 256 They overlooked, for example, that the fact th at America can have large tracts of uninhabited land is partially due to our abili ty to export production to non W estern countries so that many of the products we use are not made by American factories that would be land hogging and p o l l u t i o n c a u s i n g 257 The histor ically limited racialized world view of most eco critics and environmentalists thus produces an incomplete under standing of wilderness and usually prevents people of color from becoming interested in wilderness experiences and preserv ation. Second wave environmental justice advocates emphasize that mainstream eco justice advocates and academic critics remain primarily white and concerned with white 255 Mark B. Feldman and Hsuan L. Hsu, "Introduction: Race, Environment, and Representation," Discourse 29, no. 2/3 (Spring and Fall 2007), 200, 201, 210. 256 Ibid, 201, 205. 257 Ramachandra Guha, "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique," in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 239.
110 co mmunities' interests; the first wave movement is thus often deemed r a c i s t 258 The fir st wave's concern with the well being of wilderness explicitly supersed concern for people of color. Sun Hee Park and Naguib Pellow explain that in the early twentieth century, many environmentalist leaders "decried the influx of Jewish immigrants and othe r newcomers from Italy, China, and Japan as a threat to American values concerning the sanctity of wild p l a c e s 259 Nativism, cultural conflict, and the concurrent rise of the association of cities with negative stigmas and people of color contributed to a p urposeful turning away, and separation from, the plights of non whites. By the time Leopold published his "Land Ethic" in 1949, environmentalists were no longer intentionally working against the interests of people of color, but were indirectly maintaining racial inequality by ignoring their p l i g h t 260 In fairness to Leopold and other early twentieth century conservationists, it was their objective to do good by focusing on the eco system. They did not have our contemporary insight into the interdependence of the global eco system and of the global consequences of social inequality, nor did they live in a society that had the same degree of racial awareness that we do now. On the other hand, late twentieth century eco critics, and particularly Cronon, Nash, an d White, produce strong accounts of problematic class dynamics and wilderness, yet do not explicitly, or even implicitly, address race. The Civil Rights Movement seems to be lost on them. The history of environmentalism indicates that it will only transc end white concerns when non white perspectives force themselves upon it. "The mainstream environmental 258 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 390; Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 12. 259 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 128. 260 Carolyn Merchant, "Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History," 387.
111 movement has been incapable of building a mass following in this nation precisely because it refuses to embrace a broader agenda of social justice," decl are Sun Hee Park and Naguib P e l l o w 261 The ecological reality, not the moral imperative, of social injustice and its negative effect on the environment, and most notably climate change, seems to be the cause of eco justice's budding transition to combating s ocial inequality. Wilderness, the Invisibility of Privilege, and White Supremacy First wave eco critics' engagement with wilderness simply did not include the factor of race because of their blindness to their own racial privilege. As described in Chapte r IV, white privilege includes the advantage of not having to think about race and to assume that this omission is a universal experience. White privilege stems from white supremacy, the still functioning American social and political system that preserves white domination, or the perpetuation of power of those raced as white. The American legal system created and often maintains the structural inequality that makes the experience of privilege p o s s i b l e 262 White supremacy retains its strength because its powe r structure was constructed to be disguised. Leonardo writes that the process of enacting racial domination is to "set up a system that benefits the [white] group, mystify the system, remove the agents of actions from discourse, and when interrogated about it, stifle the discussion with inane comments about the 'reality' of the charges being m a d e 263 Wilderness can be considered a microcosm of this processes: it was created for white colonialists, articulated according to the RWI, the RWI writers were revere d for their insights into supra human nature, and wilder ness remains constructed as an "empty" space defended as possessing intrinsic worth. 261 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 13. 262 Zeus Leonardo, Race, Whiteness, and Education 88. 263 Ibid.
112 I therefore suggest that wilderness plays a role i n upholding white supremacy. It s space reinforces an uncritical stance towards race and thus an implicit acceptance of racism. To accept the dominant conception of wilderness is to practice what Joyce E. King labels "dysconscious racism," which is "a form of racism that tacitly accepts dominant white norms and p r i v i l e g e s 264 An individual's love of wilderness is not racist; however, a failure to question why that love exists, why wilderness is not racially diverse, and the assumption that wilderness means the same thing to all Americans, does reflect privilege and uphol d white supremacy. The very word 'wilderness' freighted with the meanings I have described likewise plays a small role in endorsing white supremacy. Stephanie M. Wildman and Adrienne D. Davis argue that the vocabulary used to discuss white supremacy a nd privilege serves to mystify the system. For example, in common vernacular, "'[w]hite supremacy' is associated with a lunatic fringe," so that oppression is blamed upon a few "bad" people, instead of upon our broad social structure that many are complicit in s u p p o r t i n g 265 "Wilderness" is hardly a word that commonly signifies dominance and a history of racial oppression. It is an example of a term that shows how language is a white epistemological tool of concealment. Although the racial disparity of wilderness visitors indicates that racial inequality has the most impact on who appreciates and visits wilderness, I do not intend to argue that white supremacy and privilege is the sole reason for racial disparity in wilderness, nor for the social and ecological problems that wilderness advocates may be complicit in perpetuating. Racial 264 Joyce E. King, "Dy sconscious Racism: Ideol ogy, Identity, and Miseducation," i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind t he Mirror ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic  ( Philadelphia: Temple Uni versity Press, 1997), 128. 265 Stephanie M. Wildman, with Adrienne D. Davis. "Making Systems of Privilege Visible," i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror ed. Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic  ( Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1997), 315.
113 groups are never monolithic and it would be an error to reduce personal preference solely to race or any other social identity indicator. There are a multitude of rela tionships to the e nvironment and to wilderness which people of any mixed or single racial background may have. Population groups are neither wholly morally good nor bad. Many white people work for environmental and social justice, and people of color, incl uding Indigenous peoples, sometimes demonstrate a disregard for justice. GÂ—mez Pompa and Kaus are careful to point out that we ought not to "create a new myth or fall into the trap of the 'ecologically noble s a v a g e 266 To essentialize any single group as o n e which is either harmful or not is merely to create a new hierarchy and to silence people. Just as whiteness must be combated because it is not an essential attribute of white person, but rather a way of seeing white experiences as the human norm, any wo rld view that determines whether one is ecologically and socially just solely based on social identity, rather than based upon one's actions and perspectives, ought to be considered suspect. While the rejection of essentialism signals that race is not the only factor in inequitable wilderness space, the legacy of racism and classism nonetheless endures Sun Hee Park and Naguib Pellow write that "since there are many nonwhite communities around the globe that enjoy environmental privilege, white privilege i s not always the root [of inequality], but some combination of racial, class, political and cultural privilege is always at w o r k 267 Environmental privilege, which includes being comfortable in wilderness, is indeed a function of racial and class privilege; however, it arises not from their combination but rather their intersection To understand the enormous racial disparity in wilderness, class a 266 Arturo GÂ—mez Pompa and Andrea Kaus, "Taming the Wilderness Myth," 309. 267 Lisa Shun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow The Slum s of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden 204.
114 combination of economic and social capital cannot be overlooked. The legacy of institutionalized racism tha t constructed wilderness as a white spac e, paired with the reality of the RWI founders (and most wilderness enthusiasts) ongoing racial and class privilege, points to the necessity of understanding how race and class co create wilderness space. The traditi on of environmentalists backing policies that support ecological well being over concern for people of color, and rural and working populations amplifies this need. Herrenvolk and the White Hegemonic Alliance The intersection between racial and class hi erarchies in America is not incidental, but rather a product of America's origins This contention is supported by the simple fa ct that in the years after the C onstitution was created, the only citizens who were able to vote consistently in every state wer e propertied white males. In "The Antidemocratic Power of Whiteness," Kathleen Neal Cleaver cites the concept of herrenvolk which was coined by Pierre L. van den Berghe's and later applied by the CWS scholar David Roediger to the America, to describe nati ons in which social structure is only democratic for the dominant r a c e 268 Herrenvolk democracies or republics function to empower one racial group while giving the semblance of equality for all. In America, the dominant white race draws its power from guara nteeing that those raced as white will maintain their racial privilege regardless of their economic class. This creates a schism between non affluent whites and people of color whom would be likely to form an alliance with each other were it not for the ra cial division. This schism was thus intentionally created by white and affluent American colonists. In Learning to be White the Reverend ( and scholar ) Thandeka explains that upper class 268 Kathleen Neal Cleaver, "The Antide mocratic Power of Whiteness," i n Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror ed. Richard D elgado and Jean Stefancic  ( Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 1997), 160.
115 colonial Virginians feared revolt by all members of lower classes. Their solution was to draw a wedge between white and non white lower class populations by enacting laws that gave whites small privileges over people of c o l o r 269 In this way, a "'white' self consciousness" was created which reveres the upper class and despises the lower class and people of c o l o r 270 A psychological bias against being low class developed for whites because they suddenly aligned their identitie s primarily with other whites, and became convinced that they too could reach a higher economic status. The shame of being white and non affluent functions on two levels. First, non affluent whites are ashamed of being poor in comparison to other whites; however, the chance of social mobility gives hope of gaining economic ground and thus prevents whites from identifying with others who share their same economic position. Second, it is argued that whites develop a deep seated shame from deeming themselves better than people of color and becoming racist. Racism, then, was created by affluent whites who used it as a mechanism to induce shame and maintain upper class power which was already held by whites. Thandeka writes: I shall use the term classism to r efer to racial strategies devised to hide and thereby to promote or to protect economic class interests. The term racism will refer to racial strategies devised to hide feelings of racial shame either by diverting attention to the supposed racial flaws in others or by calling attention to oneself as racially superior. The distinction between the economic and psychological use of race highlighted by these two terms will allow me to trace how an upper class economic ploy (classism) became a lower class psychological need ( r a c i s m ) 271 Both classism and racism use the construct of race. The survival of class bias (which people of all classes may have) is dependent upon legal and de facto racial inequalities that prevent 269 Than deka, Learning to be White (New York: Bloomsbury, 1999), 42, 133. 270 Ibid, 133. 271 Ibid, 42.
116 non affluent whites and non whites f rom demanding political action based upon their shared economic class interests. Racism is a psychological ploy used to disguise upper class power by causing people both white and non white to internalize their own superiority or inferiority. A consequ ence of whiteness is that non affluent whites choose to maintain their white privilege over economic and interracial solidarity. From this perspective, white supremacy mystifies the process of racial and economic domination. Current skyrocketing rates of w ealth inequality support this claim. Although most whites in contemporary society denounce racism and sometimes blame their biases against others on the seemingly less morally repulsive classism, the existence of a systemic and psychological bond betwee n affluent and non affluent whites remains and prevents interracial fellowship. CWS scholar Ricky Lee Allen uses the term white hegemonic alliance to describe how white intra racial politics maintains white supremacy and upper class power. Allen argues tha t the "White race requires an internal hierarchy in order for it to e x i s t 272 This hierarchy is described by Thandeka as initially being legally and psychologically implemented. Now that there is greater racial and class legal equality, the alliance has bec ome increasingly hegemonic because it is primarily dependent upon de facto social power and willing submission to the dominant i d e o l o g y 273 Although all whites are not privileged equally and thus the common challenge to white privilege is "'what about po or white people?'" white privilege insures that all whites will have some degree of privilege in the United S t a t e s 274 On one hand, poor whites 272 Ricky Lee Allen, "What About Poor White People ?" in Handbook of Social Justice in Education ed. William Ayers, Therese Quinn, and David Stovall (New Yor k: Routledge, 2009), 211. 273 Ibid, 226. 274 Ibid, 210, 216.
117 embrace whiteness so that they retain some power. They may not be openly racist, but their desire for power is also likely tied to a psychological fear of being non white. On the other hand, non poor whites need poor whites as red herrings who divert attention from the racial consolidation of economic power. Allen argues that non poor whites do not want all members of their race to be wealthy because it would serve as definitive proof of white s u p r e m a c y 275 The implication is that this might cause racial warfare. Poor whites function to retain white supremacy and privilege while shielding it from attack. To fortify wh ite supremacy's invisible castle wall, poor whites are often stereotyped as most racist so that the institutional and structural power that non poor whites have to enact racist laws is concealed. Non poor whites "necessitate an image of the racist poor Whi te to pass themselves off as non racist," writes A l l e n 276 The mystification of the system of racism and classism that the white hegemonic alliance supports is a tool of power that collaborates with white racial epistemology to construct spaces, such as wild erness, that mask white and affluent social domination. Class Conflict and Wilderness: Work Versus Play The concepts of herrenvolk and a white hegemonic alliance illuminate how white supremacy operates and camouflages itself in general and in wilderness culture More specifically, these concepts are useful tools for understanding how wilderness is a privileged space that upholds the power of those who are moneyed and white. A herrenvolk social construct illuminates how wilderness is falsely posited as eq ually accessible to everyone. In relation to wilderness, the concept of a white hegemonic alliance helps to explain how the celebration of wilderness and its champions by dominant American culture masks the reality 275 Ibid, 219. 276 Ibid, 215.
118 that advocates have often placed their lo ve of wilderness above or beyond the concerns of working class populations and people of color. Laborers, in particular, are aware of the elitism associated with wilderness lovers, but laborers are often labeled as environmental villains, and wilderness lo vers as environmental heroes. As defined by the RWI and the "Wilderness Act of 1964," wilderness is a space for contemplation and recreation. These spatial practices are performed by visitors who are most likely to by white and affluent city dwellers; m embers of urban elite populations established wilderness, and their demographic continues to be most present in w i l d e r n e s s 277 Cronon notes that the desire to escape the constructs of city life is ironic because "wilderness came to reflect the very civilizat ion the devotees sought to e s c a p e 278 Devotees may avoid the space of cityscapes, but the social and symbolic space of wilderness is constructed in urbanites' image. Thes e visitors are usually not blue collar workers. Their livelihoods do not come from dire ct interaction with the land. Conversely, rural populations "generally know far too much about working the land to regard unworked land as their i d e a l 279 Urban and rural folks may have equally meaningful connections to the outdoors, but their relationships include oppositions to each other. Urbanites consume the wilderness, while those who directly shape nature such as ranchers and lumberjacks envision landscapes as site of p r o d u c t i o n 280 Non urban spaces are sites of play for one group, and sites of work for the other. 277 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature," 9. 278 Ibid. 279 Ibid. 280 Ibid.
119 Conflict between the two groups arises because urbanites' reverence for wilderness and other relatively undeveloped landscapes clashes with the reality that blue collar laborers need to alter the landscape for their own financial livelihoo ds, and to satisfy the needs of city dwellers. The problem is that urbanite wilderness lovers tend to disregard how their daily needs to have homes and electronic devices, for example are dependent upon altering landscapes and even destroying their "na tural" states. Muir's derogatory descriptions of Billy the shepherd's inability to appreciate the aesthetic majesty of Yosemite "foretells the split between labor and e n v i r o n m e n t a l i s m 281 The RWI continues to influence contemporary wilderness advocates who place utmost value on the aesthetic quality of wilderness, and who often consider destruction of landscapes in full opposition to their value system. In Colorado, for example, many lament the scarring of mountains caused by mining. Until recently, I too ha d considered working mines contemptible. To unreflectively disdain evidence of industry outside of urban areas is to malign laborers. It is an attitude that reeks of classism. "Environmentalists so often seem self righteous, privileged, and arrogant because they so readily consent to identifying nature with play and making it by definition a place where leisured humans come only to visit and not to work, stay, or live," writes Richard W h i t e 282 This association with nature, which is exemplified by the creation of wilderness, positions environmentalists as ethical defende rs of the earth and laborers as earth's enemy. White provides the example of loggers in Washington state who are cognizant of this kind of class warfare. Their vehicles often sport a 281 Kevin DeLuca and Anne Demo, "Imagining Nature and Erasing Class and Race: Carleton Watkins, John Muir, and the Construction of Wilderness," 552. 282 Richard White, "'Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?': Work and N ature," i n Uncommon G round: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon ( New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 173.
120 bumper sticker reading, "Are You an Environmentalist or D o You Work for a L i v i n g ? 283 This witticism denotes that the working class population of loggers is well a ware of the economic privilege of environmentalists. Like white privilege, class privilege provides the ability to ignore one's financial and social privilege. Environmentalists are free to worship the purity of nature because they do not work in fields that require interaction with the landscape nor must they directly confront how their lives alter the earth. White writes of his own experience: The lights on this [computer] screen need electricity, and this particular electricity comes from dams on the Skagit or Columbia Nature, altered and changed, is in this room. But this is masked as I type. I kill nothing. I touch no living thing My separation is an illusion. What is disguised is that I unlike loggers, farmers, fishers or herders do not have to face what I alter, and so I learn nothing from i t 284 Without self reflection, those who are privileged and do not directly alter the landscape develop a cognitive disconnect between themselves and the earth, between their lifestyles and the alteration of the earth that others perform to preserve them. One might claim that his opposition to logging or to mining makes him an environmental warrior without acknowledging that his everyday activities also do great harm to the earth. Accordingly, t he white hegemonic alliance ensures that affluent environmentalists are "good" white people, while white laborers are scapegoated as the group that perpetuates harm to our ecosystem. Just as the history of Native Americans in wilderness largely goes unack nowledged, so too does the work of laborers who made access to wilderness possible. The relative ease of reaching Colorado trailheads by way of highways that were cut through mountains, and the efficiency of using trails themselves was and is made feasible by thousands of manual workers. Thomas G. Andrews describes the pain that Colorado railroad worker Jon Watt 283 Ibid, 171. 284 Ibid, 184.
121 experienced as he reflected upon the erasure of his work from common memory and its subsequent contortion into something harmful instead of benefic ial. Andrews explains that "all the places bourgeois Americans saw as the handiwork of engineers or the Almighty had, in one fashion or another, been 'Made by T o i l 285 Wilderness is rarely accessed by bushwhacking. Ironically, many hiking trails were e stablished by miners. Although efforts are sometimes made to remove old mining equipment, much mining infrastructure remains. However, these mines are often not viewed as blights on the la ndscape like working mines are, but rather as fascinating historic r elics. Andrews writes that Colorado tourism promoter s encourage "frontier nostalgia which mythologizes and romanticizes past t o i l 286 Present day wilderness proponents appreciate dilapidated mines because they are no longer a threat to wilderness preservati on. The labor of long gone miners is now entertainment. It seems that the affluent often turn scorn to admiration when the working class is viewed in a historical context. In contemporary times miners and loggers (as well as hunters and recreational vehicl e or ATV users) are often regarded by wilderness advocates as harmful and "trashy" (a word that has racial dynamics which disparage poor whites) environmental adversaries. 287 White argues that those who do not work the land use physical wilderness activities as a way of reestablishing the connection with "nature" that they have l o s t 288 Of course, most wilderness visitors do not place themselves in situations where their lives depend upon this 285 Thomas G. Andrews, "'Made by Toile'? Tourism, Labor, and the Construction of the Colorado Landscape, 1858 1917, T he Journal of American History 92, no. 3 (December 2005), 840. 286 Ibid, 853. 287 Ricky Lee Allen, "What About Poor White People ?," 214 215. 288 Richard White, "'Are You an Environmentalist or Do You Work for a Living?': Work and N ature," 174.
122 physical interaction. The y are not fighting for survival b ut choosing to challenge themselves through interacting with the landscape. The RWI founders essentially played in nature. Nash reveals that the unfamiliar "wilderness of Main socked Thoreau It seemed as if he were robbed of his capacity for thought and r e f l e c t i o n 289 Like Thorea u, for most wilderness visitors the benefits of wilderness are only reaped because risk is minimized. Nash cites microbiologist RenÂŽ Dubos who emphasizes that encounter with uncontrolled wilderness is only an intellectual idea since the use of modern amenities such as maps and gear signal that we encounter wilderness in controlled d o s e s 290 The desire to experience wilderness, to physically connect with dirt, rocks, and trees, whether it be mediated by maps and gear or not, ste ms from the perspective that one's quotidian state is one of disconnection. Rural and Indigenous populations whose lives are physically and/ or spiritually intertwined with landscapes are unlikely to feel the same level of estrangement that urbanites do. It is therefore the naive urbanite environmentalists who are most likely create the false schism between humanity and nature. The noble desire to advocate for wilderness and to protect other places from the forces of labor often coincides, unfortunately and cruelly, with the tendency to denigrate rural and manual labor populations. It also often places wilderness well being over the well being of communities that are often both poor and of color. Wilderness advocates use the white hegemonic alliance to elevat e their own "ethically sound" social standing and lean on their position in a herrenvolk society to believe that wilderness is welcoming to everyone while ignoring the harm that mainstream environmentalism causes to people of color and working class popula tions. 289 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 91. 290 Ibid, 242.
123 Social and Environmen tal Justice: Dismantling Nature/ Humanity Dualism The division between nature and humanity which enables injustice and wilderness experiences temporarily dissipate is false by Indigenous standards, according to the philosophic al reasoning that humans have altered the earth ever si nce they came into being, and through the reality of globalization. Smith argues that "capitalism transforms the shape of the entire world To this extent the problems of nature, of space, and of uneven development are tied together by capital i t s e l f 291 The global reach of capitalism has caused massive income inequality and global warming. The two are connected because those who are affluent can largely ignore the effects of climate change as they move in environmentally healthy spaces while outsourcing industrial pollution, like factories and garbage dumps, to spaces were they need never go. The ideology that promotes a dualism between nature and humanity justifies the drive to save and worship wi lderness even when it comes at the expense of unprivileged populations. To combat environmental and social injustice, it is necessary to recognize that neither can be fully remedied without attention to the other. Humanity must find a way to sustainably care for the entire environment of earth. In the words of Giovanna Di Chiro, environmentalists must shift from being "obsessed with preserving and protecting those 'wild and natural' areas defined as places where humans are not and should not be in large numbers" to defining the environment "as 'the place you work, the place you live and the place you play The merging of social justice and environmental interests therefore 291 Neil Smith, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and The Production of Space 4.
124 assumes that people are an integral part of what should be understood as the e n v i r o n m e n t 292 This anti dualism stance forces environmentalists, and everyone concerned with the fate of our planet, to consider the environment holistically, and to advocate for the health of poor communities alongside wilderness preservation. It requires self reflection. Privileged wilderness visitors must ask themselves if their love of wilderness and ability to access it obscures their own contribution to environmental and social inequality, whether through personal beliefs an d actions, political engage ment, or lack thereof. A fundamental step in dispatching nature humanity dualism and its attendant inequities is for privileged environmentalists to listen to voices that are not their own. First, so called "Third W orld perspectives must be heard. For e xample, Ramachandra Guha rejects deep ecology, or the practice of having a biocentric perspective that solely focuses on wilderness protection. He explains that "the emphasis on wilderness is positively harmful when applied to the Third World [In Ind ia] the setting aside of wilderness areas has resulted in a direct transfer of resources from the poor to the r i c h 293 The American proclivity for creating wilderness has spread throughout the world. Its effect is usually population displacement and a trans fer of attention from the hazards of pollution to which much of the population is subjected. Often, wilderness is created for elites by elites. In Africa, national parks are a product created for consumption "by whites for w h i t e s 294 292 Giovanna Di Chiro, "Nature as Community: The Convergence of Environmental and Social Justice," i n Uncommon Grou nd: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon, ( New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 300, 301. 293 Ramachandra Guha, "Radical American Environmentalism and Wilderness Preservation: A Third World Critique," in The Great New Wilderness Debate ed. J. Baird Callicott and Michael P. Nelson  (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1998), 235. 294 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 364.
125 Second, urban biases must be unveiled by considering rural perspectives. GÂ—mez Pompa and Kaus stress that rural populations have great insight into the land and to how it provides for us. We cannot neglect "those who feed us nor the opinion s of the local populations who live on the boundaries of w i l d e r n e s s 295 Wilderness advocates ought to consider who m wilderness displaces as well as the reality that rural and laboring populations have much to teach about our connection to the land. Third, wilderness champions must listen to t he perspectives of people of color. There is a growing community of wilderness enthusiasts of color. Wilderness communities of color are creating more inclusive outdoor spaces. Those who are not of color ought to consider non wh ite mindsets towards wildern ess and recognize the equal claim of everyone of good faith t o imagine wilderness from his or her own points of view. It is also exceedingly important, considering American's history of colonial wilderness creation, that Indigenous voices are especially he eded in order to have an honest understanding of one's presence within wilderness lands. From a moral perspective, an appreciation of the ability to be in wilderness ought to be linked to a commitment to advocate for people of color who have historically b een excluded from wilderness. The recognition of one's privilege should be linked to a sense of a non paternalist duty to undermine that privilege in favor of equality. Bayet simply and profoundly articulates that "in their purest form green values deny bl ack r i g h t s 296 Untouched nature ought to no longer be unquestioningly valued over the well being of anyone. 295 Arturo GÂ—mez Pompa and Andrea Kaus, "Taming the Wilderness Myth," 294, 309. 296 Fab ienne Bayet "Overturning the Doctrine: Indigenous People and Wilderness Being Aboriginal in the Environmental Movement," 320.
126 Furthermore, it would be a mistake to declare that Indigenous pe ople uniformly live sustainably and to label Indigenous people s u p e r c o n s e r v a t i o n i s t s 297 After all, they too have contemporary needs and live within globalized capitalism. However, the fact that historically "N ative peoples were viewed as foreigners in their own land and were judged incompetent stewards of nature, points to the irony of W estern c u l t u r e 298 Westerners suppress N ative peoples by creating nature reserves such as wilderness that are meant to save the environment, but those pre serves are only needed because W estern culture has a proclivity for environmental degradation. Recogni tion of the oppression of Native populations in the name of wilderness ought to be widely cultivated. This moral imperative ought to be paired with the realist position that Indigenous peoples do have a history of sustainable living practices which the res t o f us can learn from. The nature/ humanity dualism that most Indigenous peoples reject must be re imagined if humanity is to survive. Conclusion The cultivation of sustainable living practices can only be accomplished if we recognize that no amount of a doration for wilderness directly prevents us from living lives that alter the earth's surface and atmosphere. Human beings shape the earth. The task is to accept this fact, reject bio centrism in order to respect the dignity of human beings and the earth, and to figure out how to change the earth in a sustainable manner. I recognize that sustainability is the largest global concern and challenge of our time. This thesis only hopes to stress that a small part of our task is to recognize that wilderness is no t truly a discreet "empty" space but is entangled with our greatest dilemmas. This perspective necessitates that 297 Ibid, 318. 298 Lisa Sun Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow, The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants Vs. the Environment in America's Eden ( New York: New York University Press, 2011), 128.
127 privilege is made visible, and that the interplay between race and class is exposed. It is most difficult to notice injustice and uneven develo pment when one is privileged since privilege allows one to ignore her own positionality. Therefore, privileged wildernes s advocates who have yet to learn how their social status is interlaced with wilderness appreciation must face the painful challenge of reassessing their identities and relationships to place and space. The following chapter will suggest an alternative framework for conceptualizing wilderness that could help to combat wilderness inequality and climate change. This alternative conception of wilderness, however, is not meant to erase the history of wilderness creation or to hide the meaning of wilderness that this thesis has thus far explicated.
128 CHAPTER VI CODA: THE MYSTERY AND UBIQUITY OF WILDNESS The objective of my critique of the privileged space of wilderness has been to explain why white and affluent Amer icans populate wilderness space and why people of color and the working class overwhelmingly do not. I have demonstrated that the multidimensiona l space of wilderness is oppressive; it contributes to racial and environmental inequality, and to environmental destruction. Yet, these attributes of wilderness do not fully negate the value of wilderness because aspects of the p erceptual space of wildern ess transcend socially constructed space. In this chapter, I suggest that a n ew conception of wilderness which is rooted in a theory of wildness is needed to replace the Received Wilderness Idea and to make wilderness more inclusive. Accordingly, the follo wing sections will examine the fundamental element of being that is present in wilderness and elsewhere that is termed wildness The concepts of wild and wildness (both nouns that I suggest describe a state of being) are just beginning to be seriously ar ticulated and accounted for by interdisciplinary scholars who write abo ut the environment. There is no single definition of wild or w i l d n e s s 299 There does, however, seem to be consensus that these terms express something whose existence is part of the world but is unknown and not fully human. Merleau Ponty provides the most thorough account of wildness, which he terms wild being I am unaware of engagement with Merleau Ponty's account of wild being by scholars who do not work within the discipline of philoso phy. Although wildness has not been systematically examined and explained, much writing and scholarship does incorporate small accounts of it. These 299 Robert Michael Pyle, "Conundrum and Continuum: One Man's Wilderness, from a Ditch to the Dark Divine," in Wildness ed. Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017), 12 13.
129 accounts all stem from the axiom that humans' embodiment transcends social constructions to some degree, an d that this transcendence is an inherent principle of our structure of being and of perception. There is also the implicit claim that humans are both a part of nature and at odds with it. Merleau Ponty's description of wild being and of flesh accounts for this seeming paradox. Wildness, as I define it, is the mysterious and wondrous element of being that exists everywhere and draws individual entities to one another. We are drawn to things, whether they are living or not. We may feel wonderment towards a rock or a chair, a cliff or a skyscraper. Yet there is a particular attraction from one living thing to another since living things can feel, hear, taste, smell, see each other's presence. Wonderment arises when we encounter the unexpected or the unknown a nd feel a pleasant and heightened magnetic attraction. Wonderment would not be possible without difference, without a gap between one thing and another. Within the physical space of wilderness, non human life forms exist in a high proportion relative to hu man visitors. This large concentration of non human living otherness can then account for the sense of wonderment, freedom (from pre established modes of interaction), and sense of unity that wilderness visitors often experience. These experiences are th ose express ed in the RWI but are here placed within a different ontological framework that locates humans within an intersubjective field of being with inherent mystery, rather than positing that wilderness contains pure nature which is separate from human ity and inherently purifying. Further into this chapter, I will point out that Thoreau and Muir do write about mystery but that non divine mystery is curiously left out of the RWI. My own concept of wildness draws heavily on Maurice Merleau Ponty's notion s of wild being and his concept of flesh Eco phenomenologists such as Ted Toadvine and
130 Monika Langer have broken new ground in the application of Merleau Ponty's work to contemporary environmental issues. Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine explain that eco phenomenology is cross disciplinary and "is based on a double claim; first, that an adequate account of our ecological situ ation requires the methods and insights of phenomenology, and second, that phenomenology, led by its own momentum, becomes a philosophical ecology, that is, a study of the interrelationship between organism and world in its metaphysical and axiological d i m e n s i o n s 300 Phenomenology illuminates humans' relationship to the earth and to wilderness by reflecting upon lived and embodied experiences while recognizing that all experience happens within the immersive world, a space which is not merely a physical cont ainer but rather the whole context of b e i n g 301 Yet each discrete entity, or individual, is uniquely situated so that her own consciousness orients her own particular perspective in the world. This central phenom enological claim rejects nature/ humanity duali sm without collapsing nature and humanity into a monolithic whole. Eco phenomenology produces an account of hum ans' relationship to nature which justifies the realit y that nature is neither origin nor complete difference. It also works towards creating an environmental value system that is not fully subjected to social constructionism. F lesh and wild being are examples of phenomenological categories that ontologically describe the simultaneous intertwinement and distance between a human and that which in no t human. 300 Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, "Eco Phenomenology: An Introduction," i n Ec o Phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself ed. Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine ( Albany: State University of New York P ress, 2003), Accessed December 5 2015, https://www.ebscohost.com/, xii xiii. 301 Robert Sokolowski, Introduction to Phenomenology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 42 44.
131 I choose to conclude this thesis with an account of wildness and its role in wilderness for several reasons. First, scholarship on the concept of wildness, and parenthetical remarks about it, tend to take a phenomenological or descriptive appr oach which lends itself to wilderness critique since the concept of wilderness was largely created through first hand descriptions of experience. Romantic poets, T horeau, and Muir spent time out of doors and then reflected upon it through the mediums of po etry, philosophy and journal entries. The enduring str ength of their descriptions lie in their lyrical quality; aesthetically pleasing passages may stir the imagination or speak to our own experiences outdoors because they leave room open for a non scienti fic account of our interactions with the world so that our experienc es are not definitively labeled but rather open to interpretation and mystery. Instead of rejecting this tradition of writing about wilderness experiences, we can recognize the power of de scriptive and poetic writing while also examining the aspects of the RWI founders writing such as the notion of mystery that are not highlighted in the RWI. Second, the concept of wildness provides a theoretical foundation and justification for unders tanding our relationship to nature that neith er conflates humans with nature nor posits us as separate from nature; we are uniquely situated as human beings but are also interconnected with the universe and responsible for our actions. Nash argues that sin ce the twentieth century the preservation of wilderness areas depends "as never before on the promulgation of a convincing philosophy," and it must therefore be the case that the "central premise is that wilderness and civilization are no longer in an adve rsary r e l a t i o n s h i p 302 Finally, since a lack of definability is inherent to the concept of wildness, no one social group 302 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 257, 271.
132 can claim that which is wild. Thus wilderness itself can be continually redefined and opened to everyone and to a multiplicity of voices Wilderness Versus Wildness: The Indefinite Realm of Descriptive Writing The trouble with using written language to convey our experience of reality is, of course, that language is oft en incapable of producing a one to one correlation between symbols and that which they symbolize. Our most profound ex periences are often unutterable and can be better captured or mirrored in music or visual art. A paradox, then, is always involved in the attempt to describe something, such as wildness, which is articulated a s inherently indescribable at its core. Yet words can also lead us near er to things and to experiences in themselves. Descriptive, poetic, lyrical language that is aesthetically pleasing, and oftentimes symbolic, usually leads to the most meaningful articulations of experience because this kind of language engages with feeling rather than scientific description. The RWI emerged out of this type of writing. The strict use of the phenomenological method imposes rules for reflection that some argue makes it "the most concrete of the s c i e n c e s 303 Phenomenology also posits the axiom that our experience is real. Therefore, the process of describing experience usually includes lyrical language that deeply engages with what is it like to be in the full space of the world; experience must be described in concrete lived terms. Brown and Toadvine write: One point of agreement among phenomenologists is their criticism and rejection of the tendency of scientific naturalism to forget its own roots in experience. Th e consequence of this forgetting is that our experienced reality is supplanted by an abstract model of reality a model that for all of its usefulness, cannot claim epistemological or metaphysical priority over the world as experienced. 304 303 Robert Sokolowski, Introduction to Phenomenology 54. 304 Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, "Eco Phenomenology: An Introduction," xi.
133 Phenomenolog y has the ability to transcend social construction because our experience includes embodied emergence in physical space. Phenomenology accounts for what if feels like to be alive. Our bodily intelligence cannot be fully subjected to cognitive understandin g. David Seamon explains Merleau Ponty's contention that "[m]ovements of the body are not directed by this conscious [cognitive] force the 'symbolic' and 'objectifying' function but by the body's intelligent connections with the world at h a n d 305 Active wilderness experiences include the body's interaction with the world. Although our contemporary culture's obsession with physical fitness does highlight the physical benefits of wilderness, the RWI founders scantily reflect on this key element of wilderne ss experience and its connection to transcendent outdoor experiences. I suggest that a renewed attention be given to the physical element of wilderness visits. This perspective opens a path to understanding why aesthetically appealing descriptions of lands capes are an effective means of illuminating why it is that people have profound affinities for wilderness that are not grounded solely in oppressive practices; a poetic description may speak to the embodied and affective experience of wilderness visits. I contend that lyrical description and inquiry into physical and affective exposure to wilderness reveals that it is actually wildness that draws people to wilderness. There is an often overlooked strain of references to wildness, mystery and embodiment wi thin RWI writing, especially in the works of Thoreau and Muir. In The Social Creation of Nature Neil Evernden writes that "wilderness can be regarded as a thing, and as such, susceptible to identification and management. Wildness, however, lies beyond the 305 David Seamon, A Geography of the Lifeworld: Movement, Rest, and Encounter (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979), 46.
134 objects in question, a quality which directs confronts and confounds our d e s i g n s 306 The very way that the RWI is unified into a single concept shows that wilderness is indeed a qualified thing. Yet, the elements of wilderness or natural landscapes that elude the RWI authors' understanding reveal that they are also aware of a wild presence within wilderness. Thoreau writes in Walden : "At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplo rable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of N a t u r e 307 Here Thoreau conflates wildn ess with nature but also seems to imply that wildness is an element of nature. Despite this lack of philosophical clarity, Thoreau does declare that there is part of "N ature" that cannot be reduced to human conceptions or assigned a particular value, such as "purity." In contrast, Muir does explicitly associate wildness with cleanliness and pu rity he states that "[n]othing truly wild is unclean" thus giving wildness a particular valued m e a n i n g 308 On the other hand, Muir is quite adept at conveying feelings of how spaces physically effect him. He declares: "We are now in the mountains and the y are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and every cell of u s 309 The mountainous space literally enters the body, influencing humans in ways that cannot be fully infiltrated by human concepts and categories. Thoreau similarly, but perhaps a bit more intricately, describes how various elements of a space bleed into one another, so that they are separate but also unified. He illustrat es 306 Neil Evernden, The Social Creation of Nature ( Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 121. 307 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden 344. 308 John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 226. 309 Ibid, 15 16.
135 how things are not definite in themselves, but instead shift in relation to their e nvironment and to who or what perceives them. Thoreau writes: "Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the colors of both. Viewed from the hill top it reflec ts the color of the sky, but near at hand it is of a yellowish tint next the shore where you can see the sand, then a light green, which gradually deepens to a uniform dark green in the body of the pond." 310 The color of the water, the character of the pond is multidimensional and composed in relation to its surroundings. The temperature, the hue, the movement, and the content the sand grains, the water, the floating bird feathers and leaves of the pond morph in step with the pond's surroundings. Yet, t he pond also continues to be a distinct entity. Humans are not so different from Walden. Our bodies and minds are affected, infused, and altered by our environment. We are individuals who are always part of a real life mise en scÂne. As Merleau Ponty state s, "he who sees cannot possess the visible unless he is possessed by it, unless he is of i t 311 Thoreau's careful description of perceiving the color of Walden reflects an awareness of physical space and conveys to the reader the visceral quality of his experience. His writing is emotive and informative. Christina Root explains that when Thoreau wrote academic disciplines were still fairly porous so that "Thoreau was both poet and s c i e n t i s t 312 Thoreau (and Muir) sought to describe plants in order to scientifically study and categorize them. Description was a means of understanding the environments they moved through. Thoreau, 310 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden 193 311 Maurice Merleau Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible ed. Claude Lefort, trans. Alphonso Lingis ( Evanston: Nort hwestern University Press, 1968), 133 135. 312 Christina Root, "The Proteus Within: Thoreau's Practice of Goethe's Phenomenology" Janus Head 8, no. 1 (2005), 236.
136 then, practiced an early form of phenomenology that was scientific because it b egan with observation of things in themselves. Root reveals that Thoreau followed Goethe's phenomenological method. "Thoreau read Goethe in the original German" and learned to be attentive to the ways in which the interpretive process can distort things in themselves and produce inaccurate r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s 313 Language shapes reality or rather, a particular perception of reality. Thoreau knew that "concrete" scientific descriptions not only of plants but of an entire localize d environment must reach beyond language that fits things into pre established categories of thought. Things need to be observed in accordance with their full depths and dimensionalities. Therefore, understanding our world actually requires emotive and imaginative lang uage. Root quotes a passage from Goethe's "Symbolism" essay which captures how lyrical language is most fitted to phenomenological description. She writes: Although 'we get by in life with our everyday language, for we describe only superficial relations hips, another language springs up: poetic language' The observer most aware of the framing effects of different languages and of the work involved in remaining conscious of the constant process of interpretation that takes place in all acts of per ception stands the best chance of 'giving living expression to living thought' and of not 'replacing the thing with the sign [or s y m b o l ] 314 To know a space, one must observe it with close attention. This process involves considering the space as a whole and an awareness of how it makes the observer feel. Self reflective interpretation also requires that the observer be highly aware of her own preconceptions, biases, and assumptions. Thus, a thorough contemporary phenomenological account of wilderness spac e would not avoid an account of the impact that colonialism, whiteness, and 313 Ibid. 314 Ibid, 234.
137 the RWI has upon the viewer. The observer must also be aware of her own embodiment and of the benefits and limitations of describing it. The method of description that Thoreau use s, and that I argue ought not be abandoned, supports the stance that our relationship to nature is neither monolithic nor dualistic. Brown and Toadvine insist that we must understand the relationship as "reducible neither to the causality of meaningless m a tter in motion, nor to the meanings arrayed before a pure s u b j e c t 315 We cannot understand wilderness if we posit it as a purely materialist realm that is separate from human meaning. It would be equally in error to claim that wilderness experiences are com pletely subjective and severed from social conventions or that we can fully understand nature. While Thoreau's depiction of Walden Pond moves us towards describing our relationship to wildness, I suggest that it does not satisfactorily reflect upon embod iment. In a tribute to Thoreau after his death, Emerson insisted upon Thoreau's Transcendental Idealism, of his dedication to conveying what the mind conceives rather than to attributing meaning to nature in and of i t s e l f 316 I think, however, that Emerson o verlooks how Thoreau's descriptions would not be possible without a tacit acknowledgement that observation depends upon sensory immersion in the world. Thoreau writes that the entire i mmediate environment of Walden P ond contributes to its shifting colors. On one hand, the pond transforms based upon Thoreau's positioning which signals that he views the pond from his own subjective perspective. On the other, the pond could not exist in isolation. Thoreau is one element within the landscape of the pond. If th e other physical entities contribute to the 315 Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, "Eco Phenomenology: An Introduction," xix. 316 Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Thoreau," 406.
138 composition of the pond, then Thoreau must too, even if his own singular contribution lies within his perception of the pond. Therefore, Thoreau is enmeshed in the same web as the landscape of the pond. His mind cannot be completely clueless about what nature is because he is inside of nature. Thoreau's writing shows that he was not a pure Idealist. Yet, it also shows that he was not fully aware of how he was imparting to "nature" his own embodied positionality. H e hints that he is co nnected to wildness and mystery but never fully embraces it. Embodiment and Transcendence of Social Constructionism Phenomenology, and particularly that of Merleau Ponty, has a strong potential for providing us with a solid understan ding of our relationship to wildness and to wilderness because its discoveries depend upon embodied experience. This position posits that humans are always physically situated which means that there is always an feature of human being that cannot be fu lly directed by social concepts nor reduced to mental understanding. It further means that human knowledge and meaning cannot exist in Cartesian mental isolation. In terms of wilderness, one may desire to experience it because of the influence of the RWI, but that does not mean that her entire experience is subsumed by what she has been told to feel and expect. An encounter with wilderness space cannot be one sided. Since "reciprocity is the very structure of perception," one cannot escape the impact of physic al contact with wilderness. 317 The acknowledgement of reciprocity between humans and physical wilderness space opens up an avenue for understanding the value and meaning of wilderness experience that exceeds purely social critique. An alternative means of articulating wilderness experience can 317 David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology 58.
139 then emerge. A new articulation has the potential to provide justification for continuing wilderness preservation, while also providing a way for those who are historically excluded from wilderness space (whether by c onscious choice or not) to meaningful connect with wilderness space and reclaim their right to enjoy it if they choose to do so. In the context of humans' relationship to the world, the notion of re ciprocity means that the world affects us, and that we a f fect the world. This is a foundational ontological truth that is important to recognize because if wilderness experiences are only critiqued through a socio political lens, the critiques will likely be dismissed by wilderness lovers who feel a profound con nection to wilderness space. Subjective experience cannot be dismissed and devalued. Wilderness space must be acknowledged in all of its complexity which necessitates that we give attention to embodiment. Phenomenology reveals that "there is no sharp divi sion between physical aspects of the world and the social aspects," writes Don E Marietta. Jr.. 318 It would be a mistake to privilege social constructionism while rejecting the physical dimensions of wilderness space which influences subjectively meaningful wilderness experiences. Physical experience is not entirely mediated by social factors. Casey writes: "Thanks to the inscriptive tenacity and expressive subjection of the body, places come to be embedded in us; they become part of our very s e l f 319 The soc ial and symbolic dimensions of wilderness become part of visitors, but so too does wildness. The smell of sap, the feeling of sharp rocks and curved roots impressing upon the foot, while the foot impresses upon them, enters the body and makes an impression upon the individual. The 318 Don E. Marietta Jr., "Back to Ea rth with Reflection and Ecology," i n Eco P henomenology: Back to the Earth Itself ed. Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, ( Albany: State Unive rsity of New York Press, 2003) Accessed December 5, 2015, https://www.ebscohost.com/, 131. 319 Edward S Casey, "Between Geography and Philosophy: What Does it Mean to Be in the Place World?" 688.
140 RWI relays that mindfulness leads to a greater appreciation of wilderness. Leopold argues that conservationists must "promote perception" of wilderness s p a c e 320 I contend that the meaning of perception must be expanded to include p hysical experiences that cannot be expressed by, or reduced to, language. The most mature notion of reciprocity between individuals and the world is found in Merleau Ponty's The Visible and Invisible Within the framework of Merleau Ponty's ontology, a mo re particular form of reciprocity is conceptualized as reversibility Merleau Ponty develops the concept of reversibility to eliminate the classic philosophical dualism between immanence and transcendence. He declares that the lived body experiences itself as object and subject as in itself and for itself because it is multi dimensional. Merleau Ponty writes that "our body is a being of two leaves from one side a thing among things and otherwise what se es them and touches them [W] hat unites these t wo properties with itself, and its double belongingness to the order of the 'object' and to the order of the 'subject' reveals to us quite unexpected relations between the two orders this double reference; it teachs us that each calls for the o t h e r 321 Since humans are not pure subjectivity, conscious intentionality does not det ermine whether we are touched o r being touched. For example, a hiker might bump into a sharp tree branch and become aware of the tree, but it is unlikely that he would claim tha t either himself or the tree exclusively touched the other, or that himself or the tree were exclusively passively touched. In the latter case, his frustration at feeling a stab of pain would signal that the tree partially intruded into the hiking trail an d touched him. If the branch were blown by the wind, this example would be all the more 320 Aldo Leopold, A Sand Country Almanac & Other Writings on Ecology and Conservation 149. 321 Maurice Merleau Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible 137.
141 convincing. When Muir writes that the mountains are in us, he is stating an ontological fact. I believe that this sentiment is felt by those who appreciate Muir's writi ng. The attempt to reveal the prejudice and privilege in Muir's words and in that of many wilderness visitors will fail unless reciprocity and reversibility is respected as essential to wilderness experience s Encounters with Enigmatic Wildness within Wild erness The reminder that all experience is embodied urges respect for the effect that wildness has upon wilderness visitors. Yet, since we are beings who are both subjects and objects, a balance must be struck between recognizing what we can and cannot co ntrol, between our ability t o impose ourselves on the world and its resistance to that imposition. "Nature is a mirror onto which we project our own ideas and values; but it is also a material reality that sets limits The nonhuman world is not (just) our creation, but nature is" writes C r o n o n 322 This perspective reaffirms that humans are part of the non human world, but also retain a degree of separation. Most Indigenous peoples such as the RarÂ‡muri of the Mexican Sierra Madre mountains do "not dif ferentiate between the human and nonhuman worlds" and thus do not have a concept that is parallel to w i l d n e s s 323 Yet, there are also Indigenous expressions of a mysterious element in the universe that humans cannot penetrate. Standing Bear writes that for t he Lakota, "all thing were kindred and brought together by the same Great M y s t e r y 324 The mysterious element of the universe is subject to a range of interpretations, but it is also a fact of human existence. 322 William Cronon "Introduction: In Search of Nature i n Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cronon ( New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 458. 323 Enrique SalmÂ—n, "No Word," in Wildness ed. Gavin Van Horn and John Hausdoerffer (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017), 25. 324 Chief Luther Standing Bear, "Indian Wisdom," 202.
142 Life and death remain mysterious. Whether at peace with death or not, humans have an awareness of their own mortality that other beings seemingly lack. Robert P. Harrison writes: I am at odds with my own death. I am cursed by an awareness that nature's demands don't answer my demand that my having been born and my being here make a difference that makes sense to me. I am nature's exception and nature's negation We are both inside and outside of nature: this is our dismay that we come up against its insurmountable limit Nature is not o ur slave; it does not need our acknowledgement. By the same token it is not our master and cannot acknowledge our h u m a n i t y 325 If we accept death and are aware that we are part of the natural world, we are still pestered by the thought that our naturalnes s does not reveal why we are conscious beings. We look to creation stories, to religion, to tell us why we here, why life is difficult, and why we must die. The wild life forms in wilderness may teach us that we must die to make room for others in the cycl e of life, or give us the unexplainable feeling that there is a bond between all the disparate things in the universe, and that this intuitive sensation of love between things is enough to keep fear and confusion at bay. Yet there remains no natural explan ation for why some beings suffer infinitely more than others. Our desire for the universe to consciously recognize our existence, signaling that we matter, will never be fulfilled. Even if we do not believe that there is inherent meaning in the world, the question of why humans need to create meaning remains. Hence, there is a gap between human consciousness and the non human world. There is a gap of understanding, a space where language fails, a space where mystery lives. 325 Robert P. Harrison, "Toward a Philosophy of Nature," in Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature ed. William Cron on ( New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 435, 436.
143 The gap between humans and the no n human world exists, in localized situations, between individual beings. Since wilderness contains a higher degree of non human life forms than other spaces, for humans, it is space with heightened mystery. In "The Primacy of Desire and Its Ecological Con sequences," Ted Toadvine illuminates Merleau Ponty's ontology. He argues that sensible things interact within a field of perception, but that interactions cannot be reduced to materialism. The desire to look closely at a long shoot of grass, for example, c annot be fully explained from a physical or mechanical perspective. Toadvine writes: "Although it is this dialogue with the thing that makes perception possible, that opens the horizon of the perceptual field, the call to which our body responds is itself imperceivable. The call of the visible is itself i n v i s i b l e 326 There is an intermediary element between things that causes us to be drawn to otherness. Like all space, this gap is multidimensional and is not mere physical space. Merleau Ponty conceptualize s this middle ground of being as flesh Merleau Ponty's seminal notion of flesh imbues his ontology with universal interconnectivity and ambiguity. The flesh is the being of the world that slides between things, that interconnects them. It is the being that inhabits the space between touching and being touched, between subject and object, it is "spanned by the total being of my body and that of the world; it is the zero pressure between two solids that make them adhere to one a n o t h e r 327 Flesh lines being s and being. Flesh is universal, and unites consciousness and the world. It is a chiasm, an intertwining, that joins together being. It is neither matter nor spirit, 326 T ed Toadvine, The Primacy of Desire and Its Ecological Consequences," i n Eco Phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself ed. Charles S. Brown and Ted T oadvine ( Albany: State Uni versity of New York Press, 2003), 147. Accessed December 2, 2015. https://muse.jhu.edu/. 327 Maurice Merleau Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible 148.
144 but rather flesh is an element of b e i n g 328 Flesh opens an intermediary space where beings c an intertwine though they can never step out of their own bodies. It explains how individuals are never alone and always alone. We are each uniquely situated and cannot meld into one another, but we are also part of the same sensible realm wherein experien ce informs us that we will never be fully isolated. The ontological category of flesh is relevant to understanding wilderness experiences and to grounding an environmental ethics because it establishes an ontology that is truly intersubjective. It pro vides a worldview where our relationship to wilderness and to the environment is neither defined by humans being located outside of nature nor fully unified with it. It avoids the antithetical poles of the debate over the intrinsic value of wilderness. It discloses that there is depth to the world, so that we only have a situated perspective. Wilderness space, perhaps, especially attunes us to the gap and magnetism between beings, and thus has a high degree of mystery and ambiguity. Thus, the meaning of wil derness experiences cannot be fully labeled or claimed by any one group. In the end notes of the unfinished manuscript for The Visible and Invisible a book which was published posthumously, Merleau Ponty describes a "brute or wild being which, ontologica lly, is p r i m a r y 329 Wild being is a n elemental reality that seemingly was developing into a reality that is more fundamental than flesh, more ambiguous, more elusive. Toadvine argues that the phrase Il y a or "There is," to which Merleau Ponty attributes a mysterious profundity gives us insight into what wild being is. Toadvine writes: Il y a is the soil of the desire of resistance animating what is otherwise a monistic o n t o l o g y 330 Wild 328 Ibid, 139. 329 Ibid, 200. 330 T ed Toadvine, The Primacy of Desire and Its Ecological Consequences," 149
145 being connects beings, paradoxically, by forever calling them to itse lf while never allowing them to rea ch it. It is not a nothingness, but an elusive presence that calls us to sense the world. Our desire to commune with wild being, to solve the mystery of otherness, brings us into closer proximity with the flesh of the w orld. The concept of flesh is based on Jean Paul Sartre's notion of desire. For Sartre, although we can touch each other, this touching is never quite enough to satisfy desire because in desiring, the for itself wants to merge into the facticity of the i n i t s e l f 331 The flesh, similarly, is an intermediary tissue between beings that prevents them from melding into one another. Wild being inhabits a further dimension of the world and is a being that calls for beings to simultaneously touch and be touched. Fle sh and wild being connect all beings in their mutual desire to reach what can never be fully grasped, to fully sense or understand the other. It is this tension between interconnectivity and separation that can support an environmental ethics wherein hum ans ground their respect for nonhuman being without falsely declaring that humans are simply one with nature. Toadvine writes: "Nature in this radical sense is the 'pocket of resistance' and the unpredictable par excellence the attempt to groun d .an [environmental] ethics on a metaphysical homogenous substratum [must] be displaced by a phenomenology of the impossible [and on] the opacity of a wild being that circumscribes our concepts and p r e c e p t s 332 Wild being is not to be equated wit h the Western concept of "wilderness" n or pure "nature." Wild being is a being that is everywhere in the world. It draws us towards the unknowable but is also the source of our prereflective experience as well as our reflective knowledge and concepts. An e nvironmental ethics grounded in Merleau Ponty's conception 331 Ibid, 148. 332 Ibid, 150.
146 of wild being provides a map for honoring humans' deep connectivity with the being of the world and with nonhuman being, while recognizing that the rea son we often fail to treat the E arth with resp ect is because we are intrinsically partially distinguishable from the "natural" world. Again, I suggest that the mysterious pull of humans to other life forms, which is made possible because of the space of wild being, is particularly abundant in wildern ess and other spaces where human infrastructure is absent. Wild being can be considered a more specific from of the concept of wildness. If the value of wilderness is reconceptualized to mean a space where humans encounter an abundance of wildness, then we will come closer to definin g the element of wilderness which can appeal to everyone because of its ontological primacy. Although a myriad of other socially contingent values will always be attached to wilderness, wildness is a condition of existence that cannot be rightfully claimed by any one group. The mysterious nature of the universe and of otherness is universal. Two Iterations of Nature: First Versus Second Wave Romanticism It is of interest that the RWI aut hors make reference to wildness but that this aspect of their writing is widely overlooked. I have noted that Thoreau in particular writes that "we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable that land and sea be infinitely wild unsurveyed and unfathomed by is because u n f a t h o m a b l e 333 Perhaps the need for the RWI authors to create a peaceful, giving, and non threatening concept of wilderness, or pure nature, led them to find inspiration in Romantic poetry that suited their colonial needs. In fact, it seems that the RWI draws almost entirely from first wave British Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth. These poets primarily concocted a view of nature as an 333 Henry D. Thoreau, Walden 344, my emphasis.
147 intrinsically good balm for the soul. Although Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir read second wave Romantic texts, they seem t o associate expressions of mystery which strayed from first wave benevolent descriptions of nature with God, therefore removing much ambiguity. The second wave Romantic poetic expressions of nature that are more ominous and ambiguous do not seem to co ntribute to the RWI. The influence of Byron, Keats, and Shelley is not evident. Shelley, for example, was consumed with the mysteriousness of the universe and his desire to overcome it. The subject of "Mont Blanc. Lines written in the Vale of Chamouni is the mountain which symbolizes the concept of a mysterious Power source that animates the u n i v e r s e 334 "Mont Blanc" can be interpreted as an expression of humans' desire to fully understand their relationship to the universe which is inherently impossible bec ause of the paradox of being which prevents the human mind from fully fusing with the universe. The poem anticipates insights of 20th century phenomenology, but it does not serve the colonial American demand to associate nature and wilderness with benevole nce. Wildness Beyond Wilderness The integration of wildness and ambiguity into the concept of wilderness provides the potential for a paradigm shift in experiencing and comprehending both wilderness and the environment in general. The mystery inherent in wildness can paradoxically make wilderness more accessible. More importantly, if we recognize that what we seek in wilderness is wildness, we can then also recognize that wildness is not exclusive to wilderness, but is everywhere. Wildness exists in citie s. The particular desire wildness creates between 334 Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Mont Blanc. "Lines Written in the Vale of Chamouni," in Romanticism: An Anthology 4th ed., ed. Duncan Wu (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2012), 1107.
148 ourselves and other living beings is found in non wilderness space. If wilderness advocates reflect upon their passion to connect with the things that compose wilderness space, they may find that many of th ese artifacts of nature such as grass and trees, also compose the space of urban environments. An awareness of the ubiquity of wildness has the potential to cultivate the inclusion of more non human living being into towns and cities. Further, populatio ns who are privileged and also aware of the universal desire to connect to living things, might be more inclined to believe that non human living things ought to be more equally dispersed throughout the space of cities and towns. The trap of cultivating l ife in one space and not in another could be avoided. Cities and towns could be understood holistically so that there would be an overall boost in environmental health and a resulting pleasure for all inhabitants. This would li kely require that pollution c ausing entities would need to be dispersed throughout the environment; if those who are privileged are not reminded that there is a cost to their lifestyles, the wide spread cultivation of non human life is less likely to manifest. In Chapter V, I expla ined how the adoration of wildernes s can ultimately be harmful to E arth. A dedication to wilderness is dangerous because it "tends to privilege some parts of nature" at the expense of o t h e r s 335 It can serve as a means of escape from the troubles of non wild erness space. Yet, wilderness experiences also have a healing and transformative potential. Cronon explains the crux of the issue. He writes: "The special power of the tree in the wilderness can teach us to recognize the wildness we did not see in th e tree we planted in our own backyard. By seeing otherness in that which is most unfamiliar, we can 335 William Cronon, "The Trouble with Wilderness; or, G etting Back to the Wrong Nature, 16.
149 learn to see it too in that which at first glance seemed merely o r d i n a r y 336 Wilderness visits can call our attention to the cul tivation of wonderment and ma y extend it into our quotidian lives. Nash follows Leopold's line of thinking and declares that wilderness experiences can be a "corrective, emphasizing man's dependence on his environment and removing the illusion that his welfare and even survival were d istinct from that of the w h o l e 337 Love for non human being within wilderness can extend to all other parts of the globe. Yet this love that is enabled by wild being is of little consequence if it does not lead to concrete political actions. True love invo lves action. Wilderness lovers must respect their wilderness experiences by extending that respect to the whole world. I intentionally emphasize whole world" here because we are already polluting space with debris that may prove problematic to us in the f uture. "Nature," or non human being, resists us, limits us, eludes us. Yet we also shape it, and therefore have a duty towards it. Wildness places "nature" "beyond any comprehensive conceptual grasp yet wholly within the domain of our social, political, an d moral r e s p o n s i b i l i t y 338 The way that we conceptualize nature and wilderness has a direct and profound effect on all people's lives. If we do not dispose of the current dominant conceptions of nature and wilderness, if we do not develop a better land ethi c, our human existence will c e a s e 339 Conclusion The phenomenological account of wildness and wild being that I have articulated points to the necessity and pleasure of engaging with other beings. Our embodiment secures 336 Ibid, 19. 337 Roderick Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind 199. 338 Robert P Harrison, "Towards a Conclusion," in Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in N ature ed. William Cron on ( New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 448. 339 N. Scott Momaday, "An American Land Ethic," 49.
150 this interaction, but a conscious appreciation of it urges us to observe our intercon nection with non human being and to perpetually discover that the world is a bewitching space. A mindset that respects wildness, whether in wilderness or elsewhere, is conducive to ethical behavior and perhaps political activism. "True rationality, then, i s found as far as possible from 'instrumental' reason or scientific 'objectivity'; it lies, rather, in the pursuit of phronesis and of the good life for humanity and the earth," write Brown and T o a d v i n e 340 The recognition and articulation of experience that is complex and imbued with mystery plays a role in the attainment of happiness; we gain pleasure when our own experiences are clarified and reflected back to us in a way that feels genuine. If we understand how problematic the RWI concept of wilderness is, without rejecting lyrical writing, and simultaneously embrace an alternative valuation of wilderness, then we will likely seek to create a more equal society that is not burdened by racism and extreme income inequality. We may learn to concede that wil derness is not an innate natural entity, but exist s because of industry. The well being of E arth and its inhabitants may be favo red over greed that causes the E arth to rapidly warm. We can learn t o love wilderness but recognize that it is not an ultimate e scape. Rather, we might conceive of wilderness as a space with a particular invitation to engage more deeply with the complexity of life on E arth. 340 Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, "Eco Phenomenology: An Introduction," xix.
151 CHAPTER VII CONCLUSION: WILDERNESS DEFINED The primary question I sought to answer with this thesi s is why Colorado wilderness is primarily a racially white and affluent space. I approached this question by examining place, identity, the colonial construct of empty land, the Received Wi lderness Idea, spatial and epistemological concealment, the conju nction between race and class, and the link between environmental and social justice. I discovered that it is necessary to investigate these broad topics concurrently because together they reveal that wilderness is dependent upon concepts of concealment that is, upon conceptual apparatuses whose inherent structure was formed to shroud their promotion of inequality, and of racism especially. These concepts benefit those with racial and economic power and contribute to the maintenance of the exclusive space of wilderness. In turn, wilderness itself can be considered a concept of concealment. In closing, I reaffirm my thesis that wilderness inequity depends upon concepts that disguise power dynamics by providing pointed answers to the questions posed in Chap ter I. I also put forth a definition of wilderness which both honors the reality that it was created as an inequitable space, and also incorporates the ways in which it transcends that construction. First, place and personal identity exist within a network of social relationships that are infused with power. Place and identity are intimately bound. There may not be a single place that appeals to all people, nor can people conceive of themselves without place. Therefore, wilderness is often constructed as a specific kind of outdoor and active "vacationland" in dominant American culture in order to appeal to the kind of people whose identities are linked to enjoyment of non motorized and isolated outdoor experiences. Those who stand to
152 make profit from wildern ess visitors, such as outdoor gear companies, reinforce wilderness as a place that appeals to primarily white and affluent Americans. Second, the colonial construct of empty land arose to justify white Europeans' supposed raci al superiority, and thus their l egal claim to all lands inhabited by anyone else. The creation of physical Colorado wilderness space depended upon first labeling the land as "empty" of humans while Indigenous people inhabited it. Then, to retain the empty quality of the land once Indigenous people were again classified as human, they were removed from their ancestral lands and restrained on reservations. This colonialist empting of particular landscapes was necessary for the Received Wilderness I dea to be c onstructed, and for the legal definition of American wilderness as a place "where man himself is a visitor" to be established. Third, the explication and application of Lefebvre's theory of space to wilderness reveals how common understandings of space co nceal the exclusivity of wilderness; if space is conceptualized as an empty container, then the power dynamics that infuse space are more difficult to detect. Wilderness as conceived of as empty land, or empty space, is an example par excellence of the err oneous, and in this case racist, notion that if we cannot see physical evidence of the inherent inequality of a space, nor of resultant trauma, it must not exist. The erasure of the history of violent wilderness creation is further aided by theories of kno wledge that masquerade as universal, but are act ually informed by white racial knowledge; when whites are socialized to see themselves as the human norm, and to not view themselves in racial terms, it is difficult for them to appreciate that spaces such as wilderness are indeed raced.
153 Fourth, the construction of wilderness as an exclusive, and thus socially unjust, space contributes to environmental harm because it may serve a means of elitist escape from the harm of environmental toxins and from the effec ts of climate change. If one can get a strong dose of an isolated and relatively healthy environment, she may worry less about the pollution in her own urban area and other spaces around the planet. Wilderness adoration may also lead some to advocate for w ilderness over the needs of those whom are non privileged. The history of wilderness conservation proves this explanation to be true. Finally, I suggest that the concept of wildness might be explored and used to account for the ways that physical wilderness space is experienced bodily, so that wilderness space is not entirely situated within the realm of racist social construction. The notion of wildness within wilderness clarifies ho w wilderness experiences transcend odious concepts of wilderness, while also creating an opening for inclusion since no one group can claim that which is wild. I assert that the privileged space of Colorado wilderness cannot be fully understood without attention to the intersection s between colonial history, concepts that enable concealment of racist practices, and embodiment. I recognize that this study has primarily synthesized a variety of perspectives gathered from several academic disciplines, but m y hope is that their interconnection s reveal an understanding of wilderness that could not be otherwise reached. To conclude, I present a definition of wilderness that this inquiry has formed: w ilderness might be defined as a physical and symbolic space that is freighted with a particular legal designation and specific conceptual meanings. The legal and conceptual space of wilderness is informed by American nationalism and the colonial concept of empty
154 land, which imbues wilderness with a history of racis m and general inequity. Wilderness is a justification for colonialism. Wilderness is inequitable and, in this way, socially unjust. Legally, wilderness is a space devoi d of permanent human habitation and largely of human infrastructure. Wilderness is fra med both by a dominant conceptual apparatus, and by emerging alternative conceptions. On one hand, it retains the tenets of the 19th cen tury Received Wilderness Idea, which posits wilderness as the purely natural and aest hetically pleasing antithesis to hu man civilization, a place where individuals may experience solitude, contemplation, physical challenge, and a connection to the divine unity of the universe. On the other hand however, wilderness is recognized as a space created by humans in order to cate r to the desire of those wh o are overwhelmingly privileged and who enjoy being outdoors; it was created as a legally and cartographically bound space that fulfills their wish to be in, and to imagine, a space where they can be with other people like them w hile a dhering to their belief in the Received Wilderness Idea Additionally, wilderness is a space wherein people attach intense personal meaning. Furthermore, for humans, the physical space of wilderness contains a high degree of "wildness." Wilderness is thus ontologically imbued with inherent ambiguity and is open to evolving definitions. Wilderness is a contested space, and an invitation for humans to engage more deeply with the complexity of life on earth. Wilderness is neither at the center of human s ociety, nor is it the ke y to preserving ecological well bein g. Yet, wilderness is a space wherein we can explore social and ecological injustice in order to wor k towards holistic justice for E arth and its inhabitants.
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