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Outsiders in Red Rock Country: The Kaiparowits Project and the Reputation of American Environmentalism

Blower, Nicholas (2018) Outsiders in Red Rock Country: The Kaiparowits Project and the Reputation of American Environmentalism. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:67662)

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Abstract

This dissertation interrogates the ways in which a series of critical newspapers, federal agencies, and private industries sought to re-shape and negatively frame the public image of post-war conservation and environmental groups in Utah and the Intermountain West. It traces, through a series of environmental-energy conflicts located around southern Utah's Kaiparowits Plateau, how commentators employed attacks on public image to de-legitimise and contain what was seen as the escalating spread of a political and cultural force: environmentalism. Beginning in the early 1950s and proceeding through much of the United States' 'environmental decade,' I detail the mutating nature and variable efficacy of these attacks as environmentalists were alternately associated with Communism, Middle Eastern oil cartels, and the counterculture. Recognising environmental groups as co-producers in this shifting public image, I also account for their counter-attempts at defending their reputations using advertising, photography, and promotional materials.

This project offers a revisionist approach to standard narratives of the ascendancy of environmental organisations. Historical accounts have typically focused on the increasing competency, professionalism, and popularity of these advocacy groups. However, few explorations have focused on the way public understandings of the movement were shaped by a range of hostile critics that constructed environmentalists in a series of decidedly pejorative frames. I argue that even as several environmental organisations achieved increased political access and potency in the years 1950-1980, their reputations in the same period experienced a comparable decline. This resultant divisive reputation in the Intermountain states would come to play a central factor in the movement's subsequent loss of political and cultural agency in the region in the 1980s.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Wills, John
Thesis advisor: Stirrup, David
Uncontrolled keywords: Kaiparowits, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, American Environmentalism, public image
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2021 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/67662 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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