“Explore the Carpathian Garden!” – Securing nature as greener in the periphery of Europe
Tuesday 5 June, 11:30 – 12:30
The seminar will investigate the emergence of green economy and securitization logics in the process of constructing the Carpathian Mountains as a wilderness frontier. The project of establishing ‘The European Yellowstone’ in Romania will serve as a study case in understanding the expansion and adaptation of neoliberal environmental governance in the region.
Green economy and securitization lump together across the globe, scholars from different disciplines producing critical analyses on how these two processes unfold and conceal each other’s genealogies (Masse, Lunstrum 2016). Cases particularly from the Global South account for the co-productive ontology of the two, where securitization practices are highly depoliticized and green businesses are assumed to be environmentally harmless (Kelly, Gupta 2016). Mostly ignored in current academic debates, the same processes develop unabated in peripheral Europe, a region in which their necessity is locally predicated on narratives of degradation, disruption and evanescence of wilderness threatened by illegal logging and wildlife trade (Dorondel 2016). Although new member states are supposed to implement EU environmental directives in which human-made landscapes are regarded as valuable (Neumann 2014), over the last few years the region has witnessed notable initiatives celebrating untouched nature and rewilding opportunities (Vasile 2018). In Romania some of the most extreme projects advocate severe measures of protection, fencing formerly communal lands and banning forest dependent groups from using their traditional sources of income (Iordachesu 2018). Both Romania’s touristic brand and the set of policies opening the agricultural and forestland markets for the global capital have encouraged a boom in green businesses developments (EcoRuralis 2016), particularly nature-based tourism.
In the case that we are presenting these imaginations of pristine nature have actively remaking economies, landscapes, livelihoods and social relations inside communities. Particular attention will be devoted to understanding the postsocialist transformations which offered the fertile conditions of saving and constructing wilderness reserves as private initiatives.
George Iordachescu is a PhD Researcher in Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage at IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Italy. His current research investigates within a political ecology approach the emergence of untouched nature narratives in Eastern Europe. George’s interests span from environmental history to critical museology mainly revolving around ecotourism, green grabbing, theories of access and green cultural studies. From 2016 to 2017 he was part of a team of sociologists from the Romanian Academy of Sciences which investigated and mapped over 1700 community based institutions managing pastures and forestlands across rural Romania.