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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 397-408

Edenic Views in Wetland Conservation: Nature and Agriculture in the Fogliano Area, Italy

Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Correspondence Address:
Paolo Gruppuso
Department of Anthropology, University of Aberdeen
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cs.cs_17_130

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The article explores the genealogy of Edenic narratives about the Pontine Marshes in Agro Pontino, Italy, and the imaginary of the Bonifica Integrale (integral reclamation). This process of reclamation, implemented by the fascist regime throughout the 1930s, drained the Marshes transforming their ecological, economic, and social structure. The dominant reading of Agro Pontino's history is polarised through a dualistic view that sees the Marshes as the realm of an almost pristine nature and the Bonifica Integrale as a life-giving event that transformed that environment, making it cultivable and inhabitable. This view reflects a modernist understanding of time as a series of punctuated events in a linear trajectory that leads to environmental degradation. In conservation, this interpretation produces problematic political effects resulting in a specific approach that positions agriculture and nature on opposite sides. The article presents ethnographic materials that challenge this view and suggests a different approach, an ‘Anthropocene conservation', which looks at the sustainability of the future rather than defining an ecological baseline to restore.

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