Paper Proposal Round 2: Public Land

So after a bit of research for my bibliography I decided that it would be a tough task (that there really isn’t enough solid, specific literature) to write on the single subject of the national parks system in the united states. Due to this, I would like to broaden my paper to focus on the much wider topic of public land throughout international history, framing it of course in both the broad arena of cultural studies as well as contemporary conservation theories (specifically the aforementioned article which ties together these two fields of study).

I would like to begin the essay by talking about the idea of the “town common”, a method of public land allotment used by new englanders beginning pretty much as soon as townships were formed in the late 17th and early 18th century. I want to focus on how this use of land strengthened community and developed alongside methods such as town meetings and other community oriented activities. I want to touch upon the eventual shift away from this model as well.

Other examples I would like to cite as interesting, community focused land use are those of the Scandinavians, specifically the national parks systems in both Sweden and Norway, comparing them with that of the United States. Both these countries favor a much more open use of land for their citizens in terms of national parks (Professor Zuckerman at Pitzer has provided me with some readings of interest in this area during his Scandinavian Culture and Society class). I will look into the pros and cons of this more community oriented system of land conservation and how it has effected the national opinion as well as the state of the land itself.

Finally, and this may be a little cliche but I feel that it fits the model of this paper, I would like to discuss current theories on community farming in the united states and abroad. I see many of Marx’s theories emerging in today’s small farms and produce production (ughhh, had to use it), especially the ideas presented by Marx in German Ideology regarding the unavoidable exhaustion of resources which capitalism threatens.

Although this paper topic has more opportunity to remain slightly more disparate than the previous pitch I made, I feel that I will be able to create a strong vein of Marxist theory throughout all it’s parts. Suggestions on more specific directions and readings are always appreciated.

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