Historians of wilderness have shown that nature reserves are used ideologically in the construction of American national identity. But the contemporary problem of wilderness demands examination of how profoundly nature-in-reserve influences something more fundamental, namely what counts as being well, having a life, and having a future. What is wellness for the citizens to whom the parks are said to democratically belong? And how does the presence of foreigners threaten this wellness? Recent critiques of the Wilderness Act focus exclusively on its ecological effects, ignoring the extent to which wilderness policy affects our contemporary collective experience and political imagination. Tracing the challenges that migration and indigenousness currently pose to the national park system and the Wilderness Act, Grebowicz foregrounds concerns with social justice against the ecological and aesthetic ones that have created and continue to shape these environments.
With photographs by Jacqueline Schlossman.
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