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25 Rhizophora mangle in the Bill Ashley Jungles. Photograph by author. 2. LANDSCAPE ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE POLITICS OF NATURE Exploration is not so much a covering of surface distance as a study in depth: a fleeting episode, a fragment of landscape or a remark overheard may provide the only means of understanding and interpreting areas which would otherwise remain barren of meaning. —CLAUDE LÉVI-STRAUSS, Tristes Tropiques The Bill Ashley Jungles is a remembered landscape. Glades hunters named the Bill Ashley Jungles after a band of outlaws who hid out in the Everglades during the 1920s. Although there is an actual mangrove swamp within Everglades National Park that corresponds to the mangrove swamp old-timers used to call the Bill Ashley Jungles, it has been over fifty years since that name was part of an active landscape vernacular. Moreover, mangrove landscapes are terribly mobile, and so the mangrove swamp once known as the Bill Ashley Jungles has transformed itself many times in those fifty years. Nor does the name appear on contemporary Park Service maps—or on old maps, for that matter, since glades hunters were not mapmakers. This is a book about searching for the Bill Ashley Jungles and remembering as a critical practice. The glades hunters I interviewed for this book were in their eighties and nineties when we worked together. They are the last generation for which the Bill Ashley Jungles was a lived experience, and several of those I interviewed have since passed away. There is nostalgia in their remembering— for instance, a nostalgia for a time when their claims to the landscape were not blocked by various constraints (of age, of access, and so many others). In other words, they yearn for an Everglades that is reimagined through the 26 Landscape Ethnography lens of loss. We might understand nostalgia as the present’s interventions into memory. But here we should not be overly concerned with articulating “the way it really was” or parsing the truth of memory and history.1 Instead, we should look to what the tensions these practices of remembrance produce . Critically remembering the Bill Ashley Jungles entails allowing the past (selective, nostalgic, archetypal) to counter the cheap romance in the endless representations of the Everglades as a landscape of outlaws and outsiders. What we gain is a glimpse into an Everglades where the human, alligator, and mangrove worlds are hopelessly entangled and blurred, a landscape of local mythologies, economic struggles, and asymmetrical relations. In this book, remembering as a critical practice should not be confused with critique. Critique is a process of breaking things down. We use ideas, often from critical theory, as the tools to help us emancipate the truths about the power dynamics of the world—the truths about the politics of meaning, structural inequalities, race, class and gender hegemonies, the fluidity of categories of difference, and so many more worthy targets. Yet in the quest for revelation through breaking down, the joy of invention, experimentation , and play often gets lost. Instead of using ideas to break things down (reduction), I am interested in using ideas to build things up (production). What gets produced, in this book at least, are maps of the remembered landscape . But these maps are not cartographies of “the way it really was.” On the contrary, these maps will only help us get a bit less lost. I refer to the gladesmen’s Everglades as a “hunter’s landscape.” The hunter ’s landscape is a set of relations among humans and nonhumans that were shaped, in part, by the cultural practices and economic incentives of rural hunting in southern Florida. The hunter’s landscape did not exist in isolation. Instead, as I show throughout this book, the hunter’s landscape is entangled by a variety of agents who make their own territorial claims on the landscape. The Everglades, as we know it, has always been entangled at the intersection of the human and nonhuman worlds. In fact, we are only now beginning to understand how the Everglades of today is a result of the transformative work of mound-building prehistoric peoples and thousands of years of water flow and habitat formation. Certainly, we would be hard-pressed to locate any aspect of the contemporary Everglades, with its highly technical water management regimes and related land-use changes, that is pure Landscape Ethnography 27 nature. At the same time, the nonhuman Everglades has its own logic and rules of engagement that exist within these larger articulations...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816677023
Related ISBN
9780816670277
MARC Record
OCLC
863157842
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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