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The Battle for YellowstoneMorality and the Sacred Roots of Environmental Conflict$
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Justin Farrell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164342

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164342.001.0001

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Believing in Yellowstone: The Moralization of Nature and the Creation of America’s Eden

Believing in Yellowstone: The Moralization of Nature and the Creation of America’s Eden

Chapter:
(p.34) 1. Believing in Yellowstone: The Moralization of Nature and the Creation of America’s Eden
Source:
The Battle for Yellowstone
Author(s):

Justin Farrell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691164342.003.0002

This chapter shows how materially instrumental or utilitarian aspects of social life can acquire moral and religious meanings. It argues that the use of natural resources in Yellowstone underwent a process of “moralization” that had important institutional effects on the area (e.g., more government attention, scientific research, censuring, public sentiment, emotional disgust). The chapter documents the emergence and interaction of three “moral visions” (utilitarian, spiritual, biocentric) in Yellowstone in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in order to explain this process of moralization. To demonstrate the effects of this process, and how the meaning of Yellowstone changed from its early years, the chapter ends with an analysis of how new moral visions were institutionalized into new laws and policies, both nationally and locally, culminating in the creation of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem—thus creating the social conditions for eventual intractable contemporary conflict that would soon follow.

Keywords:   Yellowstone, social life, national parks, natural resources, moralization, moral visions, Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

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