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Utah, USA

B-E-A-UTAHful?: U.S. Public Land Management and Use in the the Anthropocene

This presentation will treat public land conflict in southern Utah as a case study of how public land issues in the American West and land tenure/policy, more broadly, shape quotidian Anthropocenes. The framework for this examination will be developed through participation in the scholarly community coalescing around the study of Mississippi River Anthropocenes. Similar to calls for acknowledging the central role of petro-capitalism in anthropocenic changes, Davis and Todd (2017) argue for highlighting the anthropocenic qualities of colonization due to colonial logics’ aims to transform landscapes and the drastic changes to landscape--and noticeable changes in the atmosphere--following massive genocide. Following this specific call for attention to colonial processes of dispossession, resulting environmental changes, and the experiences of those changes, characterizing the quotidian anthropocene(s) in southern Utah means carefully considering the ways realities and imaginaries of the past take part in shaping the everyday experience of the present. This characterization attends not just to how settler colonialism has operated as a type of terraforming through the remaking of landscapes via overt violence and federal or state policy decisions about damming water sources, logging, or leasing subsurface oil and mineral rights, but also how patterns of land ownership and management policies that determine legal use shape people’s everyday relation to landscapes, resources, and environmental change. The presentation will conclude with speaking back to other cases of quotidian Anthropocenes, proposing questions about the influence of historical and contemporary land tenure, management, and use on how the Anthropocene manifests in other locations.