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The Intemperate Rainforest

Nature, Culture, and Power on Canada’s West Coast

2002
Author:

Bruce Braun

The Intemperate Rainforest

An exciting new approach to environmental politics

Bruce Braun examines the various practices—social, discursive, and political—through which Canada’s West Coast forests have been given meaning and made the site of intense political and ideological struggle. Departing from other work on environmental politics that assumes the “forest” is a constant, The Intemperate Rainforest traces the way West Coast landscapes have been viewed and controlled by explorers, foresters, environmentalists, artists, scientists, adventure travelers, and Native peoples.

This is an engaging and challenging book that is relevant not just in discussions regarding the forests and peoples of British Columbia, but is also an important contribution to the ongoing discourse regarding the construction of meaning in and of nature generally.

David Schlosberg, Northern Arizona University

Save the rainforest—not a question but a statement of fact. What good environmentalist would ever dispute it? Bruce Braun does; he goes so far as to ask, what is the rainforest? Who defines it? He examines the various practices—social, discursive, and political—through which Canada’s West Coast forests have been given meaning and made the site of intense political and ideological struggle. Departing from other work on environmental politics that assumes the "forest" is a constant, The Intemperate Rainforest traces the way West Coast landscapes have been viewed and controlled by explorers, foresters, environmentalists, artists, scientists, adventure travelers, and Native peoples.

In 1993, dramatic political protests over logging in Clayoquot Sound in British Columbia propelled Canada’s temperate rainforests onto the global stage. Celebrities and rock bands joined protests that, with over eight hundred arrests, were some of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history. Moving between these events and the histories and practices that produced these forest spaces, Braun reveals a complex postcolonial landscape in which a conventional politics of wilderness preservation is found lacking.

Bringing environmental studies into conversation with poststructuralist theory and postcolonial studies leads to a dynamic understanding of the forest as a historically contingent, politically charged object. Braun demonstrates how constructions of the forest are inextricably entangled with culture, race, nation, class, and colonialism in ways that trouble conventional approaches to nature and politics. Often portrayed as pristine landscape, he shows the forest to be an intensely cultural space inseparable from the primitivist fantasies, scientific discourses, and indigenous knowledges that constitute it. Displacing the language of wilderness, Braun proposes understanding the forest as a hybrid object that cannot be assigned to either "nature" or "culture" and cannot be understood apart from the relations of power that infuse it.


The Intemperate Rainforest

Bruce Braun is assistant professor of geography at the University of Minnesota. He is the coeditor of Re-making Reality: Nature at the Millennium (1998) and Social Nature: Theory, Practice, and Politics (2001).

The Intemperate Rainforest

This is an engaging and challenging book that is relevant not just in discussions regarding the forests and peoples of British Columbia, but is also an important contribution to the ongoing discourse regarding the construction of meaning in and of nature generally.

David Schlosberg, Northern Arizona University

In bringing together debates about nature and postcolonialism through original research on Clayquot Sound, a place with international appeal as well as local resonance, this is a book with significant intellectual impact.

Sarah Whatmore, Open University, U.K.

The Intemperate Rainforest provides a new viewpoint on the complex cultural, political, and intellectual forces involved in the forest policies of British Columbia.

SciTech Book News

This is a rich and highly original text that deserves to be widely read and, as an account of the complex anatomy of conflict between modernity, native identity, and the environment, provides an excellent teaching resource.

Environmental Politics

In this geography of the mind, Braun sets out to map the conceptual grid overlaying the physical contours of the West Coast. Braun has a discerning eye and is skilled at revealing juxtaposition that transcends irony.

BC Studies

The Intemperate Rainforest is a rich and worthwhile read.

BC Historical News

This is a human geography book for all geographers.

Progress in Physical Geography

This book is the best account of how the meanings of nature are constructed, contested and used strategically by different actors. The book is highly recommended both as a methodological and analytical text to readers from a wide selection of fields, e.g. tourism and rural studies, cultural and environmental geography and political sciences.

Geografiska Annaler

This is an important and ambitious book that draws some important environmental debates into dialogue with contemporary cultural theory.

Scientia Canadensis

The Intemperate Rainforest

Contents

Preface

Abbreviations

1. The Intemperate Rainforest
2. Producing Marginality Abstraction and Displacement in the Temperate Rainforest
3. “Saving Clayoquot” Wilderness and the Politics of Indigeneity
4. Landscapes of Loss and Mourning Adventure Travel and the Reterritorialization of Nature and Culture
5. BC Seeing/Seeing BC Vision and Visuality on Canada’s West Coast
6. Picturing the Forest Crisis Immutable Mobiles,Contested Ecologies, and the Politics of Preservation

Conclusion Reimagining the Rainforest

Notes

Bibliography

Index