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Environmental Ethics

Volume 26, Issue 1, Spring 2004

Cassandra Y. Johnson, J. M. Bowker
Pages 57-75

African-American Wildland Memories

Collective memory can be used conceptually to examine African-American perceptions of wildlands and black interaction with such places. The middle-American view of wildlands frames these terrains as refuges—pure and simple, sanctified places distinct from the profanity of human modification. However, wild, primitive areas do not exist in the minds of all Americans as uncomplicated or uncontaminated places. Three labor-related institutions—forest labor, plantation agriculture, and sharecropping—and terrorism and lynching have impacted negatively on black perceptions of wildlands, producing an ambivalence toward such places among African Americans.

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