At home in national parks : a study of power, knowledge and discourse in Banff National Park and Cairngorms National Park
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National Parks bear greater implications than simply preserving or conserving pockets of landscape. They evoke values of conservation versus development, livelihood economics, environmental stewardship and personal enrichment; they fulfil positions in relation to the national and the international stage. Social characteristics are revealed though this comparative study of Banff National Park and the Cairngorms National Park. Perceptions of space, place and boundaries crucially imply different meanings to the people living inside the national park boundaries and those living outside the boundaries. 'Insiders' are long-term permanent residents for whom being in the park is a practical activity; 'outsiders' include scientists, conservationists, bureaucrats, and tourists, who take various ideological positions regarding the park's purpose. Both sides take a serious interest in the park and how it is managed and regard it as a place where they are 'at home'. Groups within these spaces considers their values and rights superior to others and conflict often arises. Non-violent means of gaining power as theorized by Foucault and Bourdieu, employing knowledge and discourse, are highly suggestive in the study of national parks. Discourse of nature is strategically significant as it influences purpose and policy that drive government's decisions on how the park will be managed - in this way discourse shapes the culture of how we use nature. Knowledge, as symbolic capital and as the basis for truth, sparks divisiveness - in particular scientific knowledge versus experiential knowledge. Changes to the exclusive North American model, such as those instituted in the Caimgorms, mark the increased social utility and inclusive nature of national parks. The challenge remains for park managers to reconcile values connected with nationalism and environmental ethics with values connected with local livelihoods.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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