Making and Unmaking the Environment in Environmental Law

Authors: Nicole Lambrou*, University of California - Los Angeles
Topics: Legal Geography, Environment, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: environmental law, ecology, land management
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Written into the preamble of each federal environmental law statute of the United States. are particular ways of framing the environment. The evolution of ecological thinking, from speculation to science and from equilibrium to open-ended and dynamic systems thinking, played a significant role in the writing of environmental law and the subsequent land management practices that shaped, and continue to shape, geographies of the United States. In this paper I consider the evolving ecological frameworks through which nature has been understood across the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the political and social context of that evolution. To do so I approach law as a process rather than a series of fixed ideas. I examine how the history of ecological knowledge interfaced with federal environmental law-making in the United States and the ways in which conceptions of nature have become embedded in, and are enacted by, legal institutions. My interest in framing these arguments is based on the belief that specific constructions of nature impact the legal protection of certain landscapes and shape the legitimacy of citizenship, both of which are urgent questions of justice for those of us practicing and theorizing in a changing climate.

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