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Permeating boundaries: The meaning of “nature” and “American”

Charlene Deaun Moulton, University of Massachusetts Amherst


American political thought is unusual in that the conception of “nature” is overtly important as well as silently embedded in the frame of reference of its practitioners. The conception of nature is evident in the national narrative around membership and property as well as in pastoral political resistance. It is my basic thesis that this attitude toward nature contributes not only to a specific kind of public policy decision concerning the allocation of natural resources, but also maintains a presupposition of the ideal American citizen as Anglo and male. I have ventured into the culture of the Southwestern Latinos, particularly but not exclusively the Hispanos of northern New Mexico and Chicano/Chicanas in order to find an alternative view of nature and an alternative perspective on the conception of nature in the United States. In the end I find the most problematic aspects of the conception of nature in traditional American political thought are (1) the reliance on ideological sameness in the that ignores real, material difference; (2) the commodification of nature and (3) the exclusion of human naturalness from the political debate.

Subject Area

Political science|American studies|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Moulton, Charlene Deaun, "Permeating boundaries: The meaning of “nature” and “American”" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9960777.