The University of Arizona

Conservationist governmental technologies in the Western European mountains: the unfinished transformation of the Pyrenees

Ismael Vaccaro, Oriol Beltran


In this paper, using a political ecology framework, we examine the impacts of statemaking technologies in several areas of the Pyrenean mountain range, Spain. We describe processes of governmental territorialization in a European, non-colonial setting, stressing their effect on the conceptualization and management of natural resources. Conservation policies are a traditional locus of political ecology: as public policies devoted to natural resource management they embody the interaction between politics and ecology. The article has several analytical goals: a) to shift the emphasis of the political ecological analysis from an explanation of territorialization based on the tension between the first and third world, towards the impact of the conflictive relationship between cities and rural areas, b) to highlight the resilience and creativity of local agency in the face of massive political disruption in the form of public policies, c) to point out to the emergence of European policies and the new leisure economies as key elements of the contemporary reconstruction of the Western mountains, and d) underscore the unfinished character, or the ongoing nature, of the described process of political negotiation of rights of access and control of natural resources.

Key Words: political ecology; Pyrenees; conservation; territorial control

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