Wild Sardinia

Indigeneity and the Global Dreamtimes of Environmentalism

Tracey Heatherington

  • Published: 2010
  • Subject Listing: Anthropology; Native American and Indigenous Studies; Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 328 pp., 5 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Culture, Place, and Nature
  • Contents

Shared concern for nature can be a way of transcending national, ethnic, religious, and cultural boundaries, yet conservation efforts often pit the interests of historically rooted or indigenous peoples against the state and international environmental organizations, eroding local autonomy while "saving" rural land for animals and tourists. Wild Sardinia's examination of the cultural politics around nature conservation and the traditional Commons on an Italian island illustrates the complexities of environmental stewardship. Long known as the home of fiercely independent shepherds (often typecast as rustics, bandits, or eco-vandals), as well as wild mouflon sheep, magnificent eagles, and rare old oak forests, the town of Orgosolo has for several decades received notoriety through local opposition to Gennargentu National Park.

Interweaving rich ethnographic description of highland central Sardinia with analysis grounded in political ecology and reflexive cultural critique, Wild Sardinia illuminates the ambivalent and open-ended meanings of many Sardinians' acts and memories of "resistance" to environmental projects. This groundbreaking case study of the tension between living cultural landscapes and the emerging ecological imaginaries envisioned through policy discourses and new media - the "global dreamtimes of environmentalism" - has relevance far beyond its Mediterranean locale.

"A wonderful ethnographic book that locates Sardinia directly within contemporary questions of environmentalism, rights, and justice. It is superbly written, eloquently argued, and a pleasure to read."
-Paige West, Barnard College, Columbia University, and American Museum of Natural History

"A fine contribution to the anthropology of the Mediterranean and to environmental anthropology, it also makes a useful contribution to the anthropology of resistance and political activism, successfully nuancing an account of resistance, to point out the complexities of gender, religious, and class identities as they feed into activism."
-Jon P. Mitchell, University of Sussex

Foreword by K. Sivaramakrishnan
Preface and Acknowledgments

Part One: Beginnings
1. Ecology, Alterity, and Resistance

Part Two: Ecology
2. Envisioning the Supramonte
3. Intimate Landscapes

Part Three: Alterity
4. Dark Frontier
5. Seeing Like a State, Seeing Like an ENGO

Part Four: Resistance
6. Walking in Via Gramsci
7. Sin, Shame, and Sheep

Part Five: Post-Environmentalisms
8. Beyond Ethnographic Refusal
9. Hope and Mischief in the Global Dreamtimes

Appendix: List of Acronyms
Glossary of Italian and Sardinian Words

"Heatherington expertly weaves an insightful analysis of global environmental hegemony; attendant cultural essentialisms; and the negotiation of authenticity, authority, and identity in relation to contested landscapes. . . This detailed and well-written case study is a must-read for anyone interested in political ecology, environmental justice, the anthropology of resistance, and cultural politics."
-Aaron M. Lampman, American Ethnologist, February 2012

"Raises some fundamental ethical, theoretical and practical issues with respect to environmentalism and its intersection with community interests, nationalism and globalization . . ."
-Subhadra Mitra Channa, Social Anthropology / Anthropologie Sociale 20(2)

"This volume.. is a remarkable academic intervention on both the thematic topics and the area in question. Wild Sardinia is an eloquent and complex piece of engaged anthropological scholarship that will find a home in many academic debates and fields. Heatherington grapples honestly and openly with difficult questions, those that typically haunt most academics who continue to do long-term fieldwork in places far and near to their home institutions.Apart from anthropologists, geographers, historians, conservation biologists, and political scientists will all benefit from parts or the whole of Wild Sardinia. Regardless of your own regional focus or disciplinary approach, you will find richly engaged and engaging material in this book. ."

"What is so original about Heatherington's discussion of resistance is that she not only carefully documents the stiflingly tight parameters from within which Orgosolo residents voice their discontent. She also examines how a heavily routinized local discourse on resistance has taken on a social life of its own."
-Anthropological Quarterly