Returning to the Natural State: Settler Colonial Conservation in the Arkansas Ozarks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Environmental conservation is intimately tied to the American national
project, and national parks write that national identity on the
dispossessed landscapes of Native Americans. In this paper I examine
ecology and conservation through institutional conservation practices in
the Arkansas Ozarks, USA. In the Ozarks, ecosystem management and
conceptualizations are contested, and conservation plays out alongside
the settler colonial cultural processes. Drawing on fieldwork in the Ozarks and media representations, this paper focuses on a form of culturally modified trees (CMT) called trail trees, and I argue that the imagined relationship between these trees and settler-colonial culture highlights the ways that indigeneity and conservation praxis produce settler-colonial subjectivities. I conclude that the scaling up of cultural ecological reasoning is a means through which complex historical narratives can be incorporated into contemporary Ozarks conservation
practice, and that this process can be corrective of the silences and elisions of Native American removal in the settler-colonial narrative of place.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Studies of Science
PublisherSage Publications
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


  • Ecological Restoration
  • conservation praxis
  • settler colonialism
  • critical regionalism
  • state parks and conservation areas
  • environmentalism
  • cultural conservation

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