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Materializing and naturalizing a collective identity: constructing the mountainous backbone of Korea

ContributorsFlorin, Ianorcid
Presented atAssociation of American Geographers' Annual Meeting, Chicago (USA), 21-25 avril
Publication date2015
Abstract

Since the Rio Summit in 1992, mountains have gained worldwide recognition and have become a major target for policies at different scales. In this context and with the recognition of environmental goods at a global level, mountain ranges tend to be identified as relevant objects of politics, including nature conservation, that transcend national boundaries. Using discourse and arguments analysis (analyse de discours et analyse des argumentaires), this paper analyses how the Baekdudaegan – a transnational mountain range in the Korean peninsula – has become a major reference for collective identification in Korea and to a lesser extent a spatial frame for environmental governance. In a theoretical perspective, our work examines the process by which geographical objects are politically and socially constructed, and how they – or their representations – can become performative symbols and emblems of identity and frames of action. First, we examine how the perception of this mountain chain has changed over time and paradigms, from a cosmological figure to a “non-object” in regard of the twentieth century' science. The second part of the paper focuses on two contemporary figures of the Baekdudaegan. On one hand, the mountain range is perceived as the orographic backbone of the Korean peninsula that needs to be protected and managed in a sustainable way. Simultaneously and in a postcolonial perspective, the Baekdudaegan is perceived as a natural proof of the unity of the Korean peninsula, that was overshadowed by Japanese scientists during occupation.

Keywords
  • Korea
  • Mountains
  • Regional environmental governance
  • Conservation
  • Protected Areas
Citation (ISO format)
FLORIN, Ian. Materializing and naturalizing a collective identity: constructing the mountainous backbone of Korea. In: Association of American Geographers” Annual Meeting. Chicago (USA). 2015.
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