Writing Culture for Nature Conservation

Writing Culture for Nature Conservation

Peter Simmons Writing Culture for Nature Conservation Collective Regional Network Analysis Anthropologists and researchers from other social sciences have for long time missed the fact that there is no place which has not already been represented by some other interest. Post-modern ethnographic field is no longer homogeneous and isolated space waiting to be discovered. Researchers try to consider different groups of interest. Also in rural studies, peasants (and their half-industrial successors) are no longer the only relevant subjects of analysis.

Interests of state government, international market and politics, and subjects of civil society are also taken into consideration. Those groups of interest are usually institutionalized and perceived as external or internal factors of the ethnographic field. Partiality of truth, as Clifford and Marcus described it (1986), doesn’t mean that each of those factors (individuals and institutions) consider only one part of the territory or reality. Even pre-scientific knowledge tries to incorporate the whole; it is actually built in relation to whole.

It is therefore not the objective of anthropological analysis to find separated truths and niter them in the bigger, holistic and more relevant story but to detect their positioning, interrelations and overlapping (person can be a man or a woman, family member, hunter, hiker, peasant, skier, etc. ) in whatever whole they perceive. Modern ethnographers are the integral, inseparable part of such representation processes (Marcus 1998: 12). They see the totality of socio-ecological relations from different perspective and use specific vocabulary.

In such multiplied perception of space and its times, locality presumable still exits but it is now theoretically more a matter of identification processes – variable relations and negotiations among people (Guppy and Ferguson 1997), influenced by global market and mass media (Mclean 1995; Epidural 2003). So, applied anthropology should first identify “interest groups” and “opinion makers” as-if they were different “stakeholders” and describe their specific definitions (awareness) of time and space.

Then we can define assess their needs ( Ervin 2000) and assist them by formulation of their policies. Decision about the selected point of view, that is about which stakeholder will be in the centre of anthropological analysis and project management (application) usually depends on anthropologist working in the field and his or her worldview. It is also a question of ones ethics and survivor. 5th World Parks Congress in Durban 2003 emphasizes the importance of involving different “stakeholders” in the park management (policy).

Its declarations should be read as a new start for acknowledging dispersed socio- cultural not Just biological reality. This orientation is quite resent. Because the interest of the congress organizer — JINN (resident in Switzerland) — has always en mainly in protected areas in “underdeveloped countries” of Africa, Asia and South America, this recent advice for fairness between stakeholders must be waged in relation to increased importance of human rights on one side and still asymmetric economic and political relations of (global) society on the other.

United Nations Declaration on Human lag R nth Trot Annihilate Ana legalize Independence movements among peoples in “peripheries” who were formerly caught in colonial enterprise. Today, even though they are declared as “equal”, indigenous peoples can hardly compete with international foundations and corporations (“capital”) or central overspent (“polity’) of nation-state, so it is a bit overoptimistic to expect that their involvement in park management will be as strong as of parties being actually “distant from the project site” (Nolan 2002: 120-27). This is also true in European context where demonstration is older and stronger.

In my opinion, it is methodologically not productive to separate foreign or internal politics of nation- state agents: they both reflect aspirations for centralized (accumulated) additional or tangible resources (Kurt 2001), or as Broodier (2003) put it — they need to gaining social, cultural and economic capital. The sole idea of protected areas is strongly connected to these efforts, which are permanently increasing pressure on national or global periphery and their inhabitants (Chocolates 2003). This article is not so much about poetics but rather politics of ethnographic involvement in existing or planned protected areas (in Slovenia).

It is not my prime intention to discuss writing stiles or metaphors of ethnographer — that is, how one should construct or position him-self literary. It is far more interesting for me to understand how ethnographers should enter and position them-selves in the “real world” of parks social relations (literally). I wish to do so by questioning the established students workshops or field researches (solo. : “tabor'”) organized by the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology which I have been organizing for the last four years. Politics, science, education and management are in the centre of interest here.

And advocacy of the weakest in established power relations of parks is important, too. My discussion on doing ethnography is directly connected to changes in cultural policy in Eastern (transitional) Europe (Derogative-gist and Kookiest 2000). During sass’s, demonstration and private enterprising raised questions about the organization and financing of cultural and scientific sector. State began to withdrew, forcing cultural and scientific institutions to look for vertical connection (partnerships, sponsorships etc). Project suggestions were now to depend mainly on financial support from civil society it-self. Copied and Atom 1997) So, contemporary objectivity of ethnographic work can be questioned at the level of observation, participation, interrogation (Stocking 1983), description (Clifford and Marcus 1986) — and financing. All these factors shape the procedures and outcomes of anthropology. Experimental project, which I will suggest at the end of the paper, hopes to retain advantages and resolve some methodological discrepancies of collective field research in Slovenia. On Nature and Culture of Slovenian Protected Areas Degradation of the environment in Slovenia presumable cannot be compared to some regions in formal eastern block.

Still, fast and loosely controlled industrialization and arbitration have brought “modernization” to almost every part of Slovene territory. National economic development strategy estimates that today early damage is approximately 4-6 % (Carne and Turk 1999: 10). I refuse to believe that west-European societies were more careful with (their) environment as eastern block, and I also doubt it is possible to measure environmental cost of economic development In exact Taluses or percents But no matter want ten reason, Ideologists say that Slovenia has a reputation of European “hot spot”.

Slovenia can be ranked among biologically richest countries in Europe and in the World. (Merit 1997: 9) In 1996 Slovenia ratified the Convention on biological diversity signed in ROI De Senior 1992. Even though Slovenia already had some protected areas following United Nations and UNESCO conventions (few landscapes, regional parks Jackson and Consonances caves, and Trivial National Park), new convention was important for shaping the common (national) sense of space because of its specific emphasis on the protection of biodiversity in situ.

Three years later, in 1999 new paradigm was integrated in the Law on protection of nature (Healed and Seaborne 2002). Many experts and green politicians saw this as an opportunity for the protection of bigger sites of Slovene territory, and possibility to fulfill some conservation plans made long mime ago. As a candidate state for the European Union, Slovenia has had to adopt European legislative and respect the ongoing European programs. Major program concerning European natural resources, species and habitats at the beginning of the new Millennium is Natural 2000 — European network of special protected areas.

Slovenia is “culturally’ also very diverse. Slovene ethnologists have specified four ethnically regions with common characteristics or influences on social life and culture: Mediterranean, Alpine, Panamanian and central Slovenian (Novak 1960; Bag 1980). Another important classification was made in accordance to administrative division of Slovenia: villages, cities and their districts were described as micro-regions (ethnological topography; Sereneness 1974).

The last attempt to regionalism Slovene ethnic territory has identified 96 units (Bogota and Hazier 1996: 148), which can of course be further divided into smaller units or unified into bigger regions of “life styles”. The result of biological and cultural diversity in Slovenia is not Just something to be proud of (“hot spot of Europe”), but it also evokes problems when efferent and centralized representations of larger territories should be brought together — as synergistic as possible (Nolan 2002: 93).

For example, what we today understand as cultural landscape and heritage is usually a result of strong environmental degradations; that is why representatives of nature protection programs refuse any further arbitration, agricultural intensification etc. This synergy is especially distant after the former Institute for the protection of natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia split in two parts in 2001 : one dealing exclusively with natural and other with cultural aspects of national heritage.

Both parties nowadays start the discussions with assumption that their subject matter is endangered and it must therefore be preserved or conserved. L And all governmental administrations for the protection of cultural heritage have been basically interested in material aspect of culture (monuments, houses, settlements and cultural landscapes), ignoring social, linguistic and other non-material values or traditions. 2 This kind of separateness seems to be in contrast with contemporary need for holistic approaches and it makes research, financing and management of protected areas very difficult or even impossible.

Anthropologist can easily get lost, used or obstructed in this forest of interests. Ethnological involvement in Protected Areas in Slovenia In ten year U Department AT Ethnology Ana cultural Anthropology started a program called Heritage for the Future with the goal to incorporate domestic point of view in the development plans of rural (and urban) areas in Slovenia. It was not the sole idea of the protection of nature that stimulated our involvement in the parks, but the assumption about the endangerment and normalization of domestic culture and society in this new environmentalist paradigm.

And experts from natural sciences and state administration also complained they are unable to establish a constructive dialog with (future) park inhabitants. Field research was conducted as students’ workshops, as practical part of curriculum at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. Students were divided into groups under the tutorship of assistants or professors. During approximately one week stay in the spring or summer each group collected data about specific topic. I shell describe my experiences which are only a part of much wider analyses made during those workshops.

In Regional park Jackson, south-eastern part of Slovenia (summer 000) I was interested in the “Forms of social life / sociability’. Vive suspected that analyzing management of public events (a combination of human, technological and natural resources) will give a picture of the sorts or levels of regional common ground. I was able to define local opinion-makers (activists), micro-identities and power relations inside the existed park, which were actually not connected to the park management at all.

It seemed to me that there are at least two separated levels of social life in regional park Jackson: one in the perspective of governance and the there as the way of life or event management of local/regional population. Since park has been working for almost twenty years (since 1981), it was fascinating to see how the state can influence local communities for so long by supporting park administration without even consider them. 3 That is why inhabitants didn’t identify them-selves with the park and why their participation in park management was almost zero.

But the importance of (inter)national image of protected area was much stronger then its relevance to inhabitants and its reinitialize. Research was conducted by 8 students (of 25). Methods used were interview, photography and observation. At the end we have invited the informants to visit our final presentation, which came out to be a good idea because collected information could be checked right away and we managed to provoke a discussion about their vision on regional development. Students also got sense of social responsibility.

One year later I wanted to learn more about Food and culture in local taverns. I hoped to understand the economy of taverns through the analysis of material, informational and human inputs and outputs (who, what, how, when and by whom goes in and out the tavern). I thought this economized subject would be of bigger interest to park management, because findings of the previous year seemed to be over academic and to critical. But it came out again that small enterprises (taverns) are suspicious about our intentions and their cooperation with park administration.

Students were also quite “disappointed” because owners and their cooks didn’t know much about “traditional” food of the region which could become a part of marketing planes for tourists. They were serving food which can be found almost everywhere in Slovenia and Central Europe and owners did not feel any need to invent or advertise something “autochthonous”. Since their customers were mainly the local workers and not tourists, teeny Kept serving average, small meals. 4 I née taverns teem-selves were ratter small and “underdeveloped”, comparing to some other tourist resorts in Slovenia.

This can of course be of advantage, since tourists might find this underdevelopment to be interesting, unspoiled. I have encouraged 5 participating students in my group to combine collected data (interview, photo, observation) and try to describe an average and prescribe and ideal innkeeper of Jackson. Outputs were very amusing, combining ethnography with students perception of development. Final presentation for the locals was again quite successful and meaningful.

It is important to notice that Jackson Regional Park was never the main subject of our discussions with innkeepers during the workshop, but as we have been sleeping and eating in arrangement of park management (and have made the final presentation in its head quarters), it was obvious for the locals that we represent natural protection (park) policy. So, even thou we have been basically interested in cultural phenomena and mommies point of view, we — ethnologist unwillingly became agents of park policy, which meaner that we lost further part of our “objectivity’ and “credibility’.

Few moths later I received an invitation from the municipality of Lausanne to make an economic-anthropological evaluation of the project proposal to buy a “Automate hiss” (Automate house) in Allusions barrel — swampland near Lausanne. This cottage of 19th Century farmers was partly a property of pensioned economist, who, after he had found out that municipality wishes to buy this house as an entrance point to future Landscape Park, raised its prize “unreasonably’. The house was falling apart but he insisted that state and society should pay if they want to benefit.

Park planes and natural conservation doctrine didn’t impress him much. Economy, ecology and cultural heritage didn’t meet. But again I was working on the “field” as an agent of city administration having difficulties to persuade him to even talk to me. At the and, my conclusion was that Automate hiss is of great cultural value but it has no sense to give such an amount of money for an old pile. Employing again the research of sociability (public events, places and identifications), I found out that people of the wampum didn’t know much about the planes for Landscape Park.

Some mayors of municipalities around the swamp also refused to be involved in the project, seeing it as a tool for establishing even stronger hegemony of the municipality of Lausanne. Ethnographic field was contested and separated into many official and domestic levels. Allusions barrel nowadays is an important spot for protection of wetland and birds but its cultivation started a long time ago with prehistoric cravings and latter peat-cutters, etc. Compensation and arbitration was especially strong at the mime of melioration enterprise of Status-Hungarian Empire and socialist industrialization.

These processes have changed the landscape and social equilibrium drastically. Routs of cultivation are now important for genealogy of regional and national identity and potential “story providers” for tourism industry. Since the swamp is right next to Slovene capitol, it is obvious that population and economic pressure on “free” and “unspoiled nature” for recreation and building is strong and persistent. Poorer In 2002 1 started a long-term research on Poorer, because it has been mapped by ten state as one AT ten Torture regional par

K. I saw tons as a chance Tort ten development of a more systematic approach oriented directly toward nature protection and its influences on social structures in local frame. At the same time this was still a “virgin territory’ in a sense that park has not been declared yet, so it seemed useful to get ethnologists involved right from the start. Poorer is classified as a sub-alpine region, laying in the most eastern part of Alps (extended to Panic region).

In comparison to other “protected areas” I have had been working in until then, this was a big mountain territory (length 47 km from city of Dragged on the sat to the city of Marimba on the west; width to 25 km), 66 percent covered with forests, and with more then 1000 highland farms at the altitude of 600 meters and more (Neaten 1992: 294). The region was of course not so virgin at all. It is important to notice that ecology as a state (common ground, ideological) doctrine — coming through global, national and regional (distant) scientific, spiritual, economic and political centers — is quite new to this region.

Modernization after 16 Century usually encouraged people to intensify their production in agriculture, forestry and craft. The big (centralized) stories have had various influences on the mountain of Poorer at least since the middle ages. The latest transition in sass’s has also restructured society and its nature (Guile-Secures 1998). Regional integration processes in bigger social frames can also be noticed in the discourse of nature protection or conservation, where concrete plans date back in the beginning of sass’s.

According to these planes (following World Conservation Union guidelines), Poorer should have been divided into three zones: central or the most restricted zones (with virgin forest ND endangered animal and plant species), second zone with natural values of special importance (natural monuments) and the third — outside ring area — called buffer zone with specific cultural landscape. Most population is located in the surrounding buffer zone. In more then twenty years these planes were not fulfilled, but discussions about the protection appeared sporadically.

All these years we can follow more or less intensive and pragmatic crashes and alliances among environmentalists, half-rural inhabitants (half-peasants) mainly scared for their existence and old way of life, separated economic policies of the municipalities enforcing polytechnic disintegration and depopulation) and all kinds of external users/exploiters of Poorer (forestry, skiing tourism, food industry, political parties, etc. ). So far “anthropologists” of Poorer was minor.

Ecological anthropology as a subfield is even more marginal, since cultural-evolutionism of Slovene ethnology has in principle emphasizes aspect of human (ethnically, national) development and in has never considered a nature and ecological equilibrium to be a priority. Classical Slovene ethnological encyclopedias and manuals (Breezing, Liar, Guarantee, Oral 944; Novak 1960; Bag 1980) emphasized most important economic strategy of Slovene population which was agriculture (peasant society). Somewhere at the end of these writings we can find notes on curiosities such as hunting and gathering.

This was ideologically connected to shaping ethnic identity and the process of its national emancipation. Economic or ecologic anthropology text books, on the other side, follow evolutionist paradigm, so they usually open with most distant adaptation strategies. They put agriculture (domestication of animal and plants) somewhere in the middle twine hunters and industrial or post-industrial societies (Platter 2000; Deacons Ana Paulson 1 ) It Is ten concept AT battalion wanly deserves our Intention In contrast to ethnological defense of national substance. In that sense I wanted to check how people on Poorer, mostly farmers, were connected to the surrounding political, economic and ecological strategies. Research with 6 students in 2002 focused on Migrations. We were not interest Just in daily, seasonal or permanent movement of people but also in material exchange (trades, commodities) and informational exchange (education, media). All these informational and tangible “migrations” are of course interrelated. We provided a strong proof that Poorer has never been an isolated place but always in all kinds of exchange with other political and economic units.

We divided Poorer into northern and southern part, first appropriate mainly for forestry and the second with limited potentials for highland farming and with more diverse cultural landscape. We also noticed that Poorer is separated into many administrative units (municipalities) and that orchestration among their “development plans” toward Poorer has never been very successful. This should be useful lesson to the representatives of ministry of environment and spatial planning and all other organizations who wish to promote one strategy for all.

And again, most of the Poorer inhabitants didn’t know anything about nature protection plans or they were misinformed and frightened for their rights. 7 The following year I did research on Economy and Ecology. One of the major concerns of Slovene negotiators for EX. Membership was the protection of agriculture, which has been perceived as a cornerstone of national independence and identity. One of the lotions to accommodate was the concept of echo-farming, coming as a model mainly from Austria and adopted by the ministry of agriculture and food.

We have visited some of those farms to check how this doctrine was working in real life. We were also trying to indicate some sustainable practices of economic, social and environmental “equilibrium” existent on Poorer before post-modern ecological awareness. We found different motivations for Joining state echo-farming programmer and discrepancies in fulfillment of this programmer as a result of educational, familiar and other cultural forces in the region and its surroundings. Again diversity of social practices was much bigger as one might assume by reading state reports.

Echo- farming showed to be Just one of many strategies inhabitants may choose to survive, to assure their continuity (sustainability). 8 Evaluation of introduced methodology Ten years after co-editing an influential book “Writing Culture” Marcus (1998: 9) reviewed, that it was much more the textual side which has been taking into account by ethnographic writing. “Actual practices of fieldwork have not changed much at all. ” As I have mentioned at the beginning, politics or organizational problems of ethnographer’s research is the most important to me here.

Collective field research in Slovenian ethnology was launched after the Second World War (1948-1961) by the Slovene Ethnographic Museum under the leadership of its director Boris Oral. Research groups of approximately 1 5 senior ethnographers, 18 teams all together, have been working mostly in the southern and western part of Slovenia and were basically interested in “material culture”. They described and collected “artifacts of Toll culture” Tort Ethnographic museum In Lausanne anon some regional museums. As

Oral has put it, the researchers have been working separately but “hitting together”, which meant they stayed in the same locality, where they successively and separately visited informants. Sometimes they also slept in their houses (Summit 1983, 2003). They have never been to Poorer. Later collective field research known as ethnological research workshops employed students during their summer vacations. Initiators and organizers came from Slovene regional museums, Institutes for the protection of natural and cultural heritage in Slovenia, local communities, etc. — and room the Department of ethnology it-self of course.

Students Minor researchers) were divided into groups, working under tutorship of mentors. Each group collected information on one aspect of folk life, I. E. One group for the culture of food, another for architecture, third worked on the subject of craft, fourth on folklore etc. Topics changed due to the interest of clients and mentors. This sub-groups could have visited the “informants” collectively or individually — going “door to door”. Students and their mentors usually lived, eat and wrote together in one place, I. E. Students’ souse, local house of culture, apartments, country lodge etc.

This kind of field work has become an informal part of curriculum and herewith an important (guided) field experience for Slovene students of ethnology. 9 They can learn how to approach to people and make an interview. They test a combination of different techniques, I. E. Audio recordings, photography, writing, transcribing and interpreting field notes, evening discussions (public presentations), etc. Students also get to know each other better. These experiences were useful as a preparation for their diploma which was costly an exercise in combination of theoretical frame and an ethnographic experience.

I think such an approach has a limited range and is alienated. Let me list some reasons: Visits of researchers at informant’s house or flat lasted from a few minutes to a few hours — depending on personal and objective circumstances — which reduced the possibility for a relevant interview. It was either superficial or exhausting. Of course some of the researchers were skilled or lucky enough to “pull out of the informants” as much as possible; Their field work usually took only one or wow members of a household into consideration; others were out to work, at school etc. O they were out of the picture; Interpretations were based mainly on interviews; observation of the analyses phenomena in the social context was occasional. Such an approach had the only limited credibility within the analysis (evidence, indexation) of material culture and historical data. Observation of social life and participation in it were minor — depending on interrogation only; Even though Slovene hospitality urges people to serve food and drinks to visitor, this kind of research was still quite expensive. Organizer had to raise money for the accommodation, food etc. Or a (large) number of students and mentors. 10 The bigger the group of students, bigger the amount of money needed. It was therefore very difficult to fulfill all the conditions: anthropological, educational, political and financial. If I really wanted to a) get regional, comparative information (park as an imagined, redefined region), b) employ a bigger group of student researchers, and c) work in accordance to transitional cultural (market) policies, I have had to look for alternative financial resources. Since municipalities, and not the state, nave Eden contributing money, teeny expected to get something In return.

Poorer got enormous when I have tried to involve (“investigate”) residents from all the municipalities in the buffer zone. Beside that, municipalities expected some “concrete results”: the research should therefore not be academic (as a “basic research”). In opinion of some mayors and municipality councils, their money should not be wasted on something that doesn’t affect local economy or wellbeing directly: traditional house building and equipment, culture of drink and food, rituals, etc. An be sold and they reversibly make research of them useful, meaningful. L Other municipality decision-makers simply wanted to Justify the money spent by proving the research was made on their territory: it was their contribution to common good, to historical record of the neighborhood; it was their cultural and social capital. So, as soon as Vive had addressed municipalities for financial assistance, this meant that students would have to travel all around Poorer and collect information which will satisfy my ethnographic curiosity (goals) and at the same time meet the expectation f mayors and councils.

Of course this evoked a major logistic problems — traveling long distances, high gasoline and amortization costs, irregular meals, tired collaborators etc. After a week the students were exhausted and they have hardly waited to get back home. It was not Just driving and working that made them dizzy, but also knight life in the common residence: some students have been dancing and drinking almost every night until late/early hours. So they were actually exhausted when they got up in the morning. The quality of field work, already limited to interviews, felt drastically.

If practical experience and amusement of the students is not the only reason for the workshops — if I want to do “serious” collective field research with students — this pattern has to be changed. We have heard briefly how municipalities look at the issue, we know about the conventions and state centralization, but we still know little about the inhabitants. We still face the problem touching them, because so far we (tutors and students) have always entered “social arena” for only short periods of time.

This is why students could collect only stories (interrogation), and they had no clue about informants’ “real life”. My intention in the nearest future is to get in touch with members of households much more intensively. I would like to know, how have households on Poorer influenced and adopt the construction of their life (identity, locality) to assure and satisfy economical, environmental and soci