Reply To: National Parks, civilisation and globalisation

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nik.petek@arkeologi.uu.se # Posted on May 22, 2014 at 07:30

Reflection on the discussion 20th May
The seminar and lecture on national parks was an “I never knew you could think that way about parks” moment for me. It was extremely interesting to learn about the history of national parks and how they can be used as a tool for both the people and the state in making claims. For example, the people can add the national park into their rhetoric/discussion with the state when trying to preserve their own environment outside of the park, saying that industrial development of the area would have adverse effects on the national park. Or, Slovenia made claims of being a nation by establishing a national park. It is like talking about material culture and materiality theory in archaeology, but on a much grander scale.

I was in the discussion group talking about the standardisation of parks. Curiously, I don’t think we touched on globalisation and how much that would affect the standardisation of them, or how much that could contribute to it. Even though the idea of national parks is now widespread around the world, it seems that every park is run uniquely. Every 10 years they also organise a big national parks convention, where they discuss how parks can be involved in tourism, sustainable development etc. What happens is that all these national parks, which are run uniquely and have their unique environment, attend a globalising event discussing topics, which are considered (in the global western world) as “hip.” I’m not sure what effects these conventions have on how the parks operate and how the managing staffs promote and are making the parks relevant to the society. But imagine if they had an effect on the managing of parks and managers attended a convention on parks and education. Could we then not see the new education projects and policies implemented in the national parks as a globalising and also globally standardising effect, since all the parks are doing the same thing? This certainly depends on if the national parks conventions do have an effect or not.

The other thing I found interesting is the mentioning of rebranding national parks according to their purpose. For example, if a park’s purpose was to attract tourists then we should rebrand it as a tourist park. What interests me most about this is how people would then perceive national parks, or in this case tourist parks. I personally would be against such a rebranding, due to my relationship with the Triglav national park in Slovenia. Although it has multiple purposes, like nature conservation, research of ecosystems, as a place of peace and quiet, people that come there are technically tourists. But I am very sure, nobody perceives themselves as such. They see themselves as nature-lovers, hikers, people who just went on a trip for a day or two. Renaming the Triglav national park into Triglav tourist park would have negative effects. In a way it would imply the purpose of the park is to watch tourists, which nobody wants to do. People go to these parks to observe “true” nature. Because of this personal relationship with the Triglav national park I would be against rebranding it in such a way. Furthermore (as a silly question), if we did rebrand the parks, would not then the only national park left in the world be the Triglav national park, because the Slovenians made a claim to be a nation with it?

Sorry for the late posting. I must have forgotten to click the submit button the first time and then erased it all by closing my browser.