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The Trouble with Debunking Wilderness

The Trouble with Debunking Wilderness

(p.113) Five The Trouble with Debunking Wilderness
Abundant Earth
Eileen Crist
University of Chicago Press

“The Trouble with Debunking Wilderness” investigates a recent trend to dispense with the notion of wilderness as flawed. It argues that the notion of wilderness refers to those parts of the natural world free from human exploitation and exterminations. As the primal manifestation of the natural world, wilderness represents nature at its most creative and dynamic expressions. To dispense with the concept of wilderness is to throw away the original blueprint that reflects the impoverishment of life that limitless human expansionism, and ultimately the colonization of the biosphere, effect. Discarding the notion of wilderness undermines a spirited defense of free nature and blocks the diagnosis of human incursions into wild nature as driven by convictions of human superiority and entitlement. This chapter proposes we set aside the facile statements that “wilderness is gone” or “wilderness has been gone for a long time,” and rethink wild nature afresh. The goal of the analysis is to awaken insight into the meaning of nature’s freedom and creativity, and to inspire the arising of a social movement that will defend these qualities and seek to restore wilderness in the biosphere. The literature critical of “wilderness” is engaged and responded to in detail.

Keywords:   wilderness, indigenous impact, freedom, civilization

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