Henry Luce Foundation Grant and Asian Studies Presents
Thursday, April 12, 2018
(Re)creating Forest Natures: A Political Ecology of Ecotourism in Japan's Central Highlands
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Eric Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Japanese, Earlham CollegeThe forested mountains of the Kiso region of central Japan are increasingly sites of ecotourism, including forest bathing and power sports. These forms of ecotourism rely on images and discourses that frame landscapes as natural and local human communities as beneficiaries of ecotourism projects. However, the reality is that historical practices of industrialized forestry, followed by post-industrial transitions to modes of conservation, have transformed the Kiso region’s ecologies and left its human communities in precarious states. This talk considers practices and processes of ecotourism in the Kiso region of central Japan by examining the roles that images and discourses play in mediating disconnections between ecotourist fantasies and the actualities of postindustrial social and ecological life. Employing a political ecology approach and the concept of assemblage, the talk reveals how images and discourses hold the power to transform lived reality into something that enables consumption, or is itself consumed. The power to transform marginalized rural landscapes into spaces of ecotourist consumption allows for novel forms of capital accumulation that may not be as 'green' or as 'socially responsible' as they are presented to be.
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Time: 1:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Location: RKC 103