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Socio-Ecosystems as Total Social Facts: Studying Yellowstone National Park - Preparatory workshop in 2023 for field trip in 2024


October 27-28, 2023


Prof. Ellen Hertz, UNINE

Prof. Tobias Haller, UNIBE


Prof. Rob Fletcher, Wageningen University


Yellowstone National Park, founded in 1872 just after the U.S. Civil War, is widely held to be the oldest national park in the world. Created on land that has been continuously inhabited by Native American populations for at least 11'000 years, for the past 150 years it has been a laboratory for social, environmental, and political experimentation by an expansionary colonizing State. Virtually all of the ecological, social and ideological tensions currently agitating U.S. society find their expression in this 9000 km2 territory: the status of "the Wild" in the U.S. imaginary, occulting the central place of industrialized agriculture and its litany of environmental harms; the nostalgic but predatory relationship that White society has imposed on its Native American citizens; the importance of tourism and national parks in U.S. GDP and the pressures for internal land-grabbing caused by a particularly unregulated form of capitalism... In this proposed preparatory module, we will approach the study of Yellowstone as a "total social fact". The preparatory module introduces the topics for a joint exploratory fieldwork in 2024 on the complex of factors that interact to determine the current form and dynamics of Yellowstone. We will conduct this introductory module (participation is mandatory for participation in fieldtrip) in the company of an expert to familiarize students with the history of the U.S. national park system as well as the history of Yellowstone in particular, and to introduce some of the thematic axes for analysis that we will be exploring during the 10-day fieldtrip in 2024.




Participation fee: CHF 60 

For students of the CUSO universities (Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel and Fribourg) and from the universities of Bern, Zürich, Luzern and Basel, accommodation and meals are organised and covered by the CUSO doctoral program in anthropology. Travel expenses will be reimbursed based on half-fare train ticket (2nd class) from the student's university to the place of the activity.



Deadline for registration 01.10.2023
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