Landing : Athabascau University

ENVS461 blog 4 unit 3 Social constructions of nature and wilderness

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By Chaoran Chen July 7, 2023 - 8:30pm
ENVS461 blog 4 unit 3  Social constructions of nature and wilderness

According to William Cronon, the question of wilderness is why it has gone from being “deserted,” “savage,” “desolate,” “barren” to a sacred place to which everyone aspires. The word wilderness is idealised even though it was a place of spiritual danger and moral temptation.
William Cronon looks at the ancient view of the wilderness and how it has been transformed into the current transformation into a desired, even sanctified, human being, giving numerous examples and quotes from many books as arguments.
William Cronon challenges the idea that wilderness is deified, arguing that to some extent we live in an urban industrial civilisation, but at the same time we pretend to ourselves that our true home is in the wilderness, thus only helping to allow ourselves to escape responsibility for our own lives.
It seems to me that society and nature cannot be wrongly separated, and that people's view of wilderness is the same as the process of social development, both aspiring to it at one time and moving away from it at another. At one time people were afraid of the wilderness, but the resources it gave them certainly helped them to move away from it, to build new settlements, and gradually to develop towns and cities. It is natural for perceptions to change, but it is inappropriate to aspire to or turn away from the wilderness that has helped so much in human development, and it is inadvisable to mistakenly separate society from wilderness.
The American wilderness was created by the removal of Indians, and the culture of wilderness represents an escape from history. Wilderness is now seen as a freer, more authentic place, in contrast to the cities and civilisation that are seen as constrained and false. Wilderness wrongly gives people the illusion that they can get away from their troubles and worries.