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95 Royal palms along the eastern side of Royal Palm Hammock, 1916. Photograph by John Kunkel Small; courtesy of the State Archives of Florida. 5. SEARCHING FOR PARADISE IN THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES So far in this book I have shown how in the hunter’s landscape the human and nonhuman worlds are entangled, like a rhizome that is on the move. Enormous snakes lurk in mangrove jungles that are constantly growing and changing even as hunters hack their way through their enclosing roots and branches. While this territorial assemblage is not grounded or fixed, the trajectories I have explored so far have been localized, or at least swampspecific . But of course there are agents of change (sea level rise, development schemes, federal and state water policies, animal rights activists) that stake their claims from locales far beyond the swamp’s confines. I use the phrase “the politics of nature” to describe the work of these broader agents of change. Following Bruno Latour, I understand “politics” as activities undertaken by collectives of humans and nonhumans. These collectives have histories and engage in processes of socialization and naturalization and, therefore, are political in the broadest sense.1 Since the beginning of statehood, numerous agents have reshaped the Everglades landscape and altered the practices of humans and nonhumans. Most notably, this politics of nature has pivoted around the seemingly contradictory impulses to develop the Everglades and conserve it from development. In this chapter I explore the ways in which some of the first scientists to appreciate the Everglades contributed to conservation efforts. Further, we see how this scientific appreciation becomes a specific kind of politics, what we might call the politics of naturalization, which entails a kind of selective vision that is blind to nature ’s humanity. Here, I look closely at how the politics of naturalization have transformed a particular site now within Everglades National Park, Royal 96 Searching for Paradise Palm Hammock, from a hunter’s landscape into a “natural landscape,” or a landscape where the territorial claims of hunters are highly circumscribed. Parts of the world become recognized, valued, known, or “famous,” for want of a better word, based on their perceived ecological significance. These landscapes go by many names: “hotspots” of biodiversity, habitats for endangered species, or even “buffer zones,” a term given to lands that serve as barriers between critical ecological habitats, such as watersheds, and adjacent development.2 Some landscapes, such as the one I am writing about here, gain mythical status for the role they have played within the field of natural history. These are geographies where ecological discoveries occurred or where fieldwork and scholarship led to larger disciplinary shifts in ecological theory or method. For instance, Wisconsin’s sand counties are inextricably linked to Aldo Leopold’s approach to wildlife conservation and environmental ethics.3 Of course, many such landscapes do not acquire the national, and even international, reputation of Leopold’s sand counties. Instead, their resonance is limited to scholars specializing in the natural history and ecology of specific regions. Royal Palm Hammock, now within Everglades National Park, is one such locale. This chapter offers an account of Royal Palm Hammock ’s rise to fame, and more particularly, I detail the politics of that ascension . In doing so I demonstrate how ecological fame-making is a politics of nature that requires the cooperation of humans (visiting naturalists, local hunters, funding agencies, and others) and nonhumans (royal palm trees, for example). Thousands upon thousands of tree islands punctuate the vast open marshes and prairies of southern Florida’s Everglades. These tree islands are classified by the dominant types of vegetation found on them, generally either wetland species or tropical hardwoods. Although wetland tree islands exist throughout the southeastern United States (the cypress swamps of the Okefenokee Swamp, for example), tropical hardwood islands, called hammocks, occur exclusively in the southern Everglades (from about Miami southward ). The term “hammock” has an unclear origin, perhaps originating in the Seminole word for “home,” although the Spanish hamaca, from the Arawakan indigenous word for “fish nets,” dates to the mid-sixteenth century, and “hummock,” also dating from the mid-sixteenth century, is a nautical term used to describe a small hill along a seacoast. Regardless of etymology, Searching for Paradise 97 hammocks as habitat are unique to southern Florida, and Royal Palm Hammock is, by far, the most famous hammock in the Everglades.4 Today, Royal Palm, which is about a mile long and a half mile wide, is the...


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