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Creating Wilderness: A Transnational History of the Swiss National Park

Winner of the Turku Book Prize of the European Society for Environmental History and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

Series: Environment in History: International Perspectives Volume: 4

By: Patrick Kupper (Author)

272 pages, 20 illustrations, 2 tables

Berghahn Books Ltd

Hardback | Jul 2014 | #209697 | ISBN-13: 9781782383734
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £59.99 $73/€67 approx

About this book

The history of the Swiss National Park, from its creation in the years before the Great War to the present, is told for the first time in Creating Wilderness. Unlike Yellowstone Park, which embodied close cooperation between state-supported conservation and public recreation, the Swiss park put in place an extraordinarily strong conservation program derived from a close alliance between the state and scientific research.

This deliberate reinterpretation of the American idea of the national park was innovative and radical, but its consequences were not limited to Switzerland. The Swiss park became the prime example of a "scientific national park," thereby influencing the course of national parks worldwide.

"This is environmental history of the first order, ranging widely across geographical scales and historical periods to trace the changing discourses and manifestations of the national park model. Kupper convincingly proves that the Swiss national parks, while inspired by the global movement sparked by the creation of the American national parks in the late 19th century, quickly established themselves as a countermodel to the American national parks, and how the Swiss model reflected specifically European concerns."
– Andrew Denning, Western Washington University

"Patrick Kupper's book is an important contribution to the history of national parks [...] [by putting] the creation of a Swiss national park into an explicitly transnational context. He understands the Swiss national park not as a mere copy of an American model but in a more nuanced way that blends different international examples with the Swiss historical context [...] Kupper's work is squarely in the tradition of Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities [...] Indeed, he nicely debunks the idea that the US invented the national park idea. One might say that Kupper does for national parks what Anderson did for nationalism itself."
– Andrew Isenberg, Temple University


List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Global Parks: National Parks, Globalization, and Western Modernism
- The Myth of Yellowstone
- Nature as National Symbol
- The Value of "Unspoiled" Nature
- The Global Conservation Movement
- National Parks and Natural Monuments
- The Globalization of the National Park

Chapter 2. National Natures: The Swiss National Park and the Conservationist "Internationale"
- "A Beautiful Vision of the Future"
- Laying the Foundations
- The National Dimension
- "Reserve" or "National Park"
- National and Global Conservation
- Dynamics and Contingencies

Chapter 3. Local Landscapes: Political Spaces, Institutional Arrangements, and Subjective Attitudes
- Global, Local
- Local Culture and Economy
- Fears and Expectations
- Area Selection and Initial Leases
- Rounding Out and Expanding
- Dealing with Conflicts
- Institutionalization and Subjectivation

Chapter 4. Total Protection: Philosophy and Practice of "Freely Developing Nature"
- "Total Protection" and Intervening in Natural Processes
- Humans and Animals
- The Role of Park Wardens
- Managing Nature
- Introducing Animals
- Seeking a New Equilibrium

Chapter 5. Ecological "Field Laboratory": The Park as a Scientific Experiment
- A New Field within Ecology
- Organizing and Financing Research
- "A Scientific National Park": International Reception
- Changing Research Methods and Practices
- Asynchronous Rhythms: Long-Term Observation and University Research
- Growing Importance of the National Park as a Field Laboratory?

Chapter 6. Wilderness Limits: Natural Dynamics and Social Equilibrium
- A Faustian Bargain with Water Power
- Gambling with the National Park
- Calling All Nature Lovers
- And the Tourists Came
- "Recreational Instruction"
- Managing Wildlife
- Of Hunters and Deer
- Shooting in the National Park


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Patrick Kupper is Senior Lecturer for environmental history and history of science and technology at ETH Zurich. He authored Atomenergie und gespaltene Gesellschaft: Die Geschichte des gescheiterten Projektes Kernkraftwerk Kaiseraugst (2003), co-authored Transforming the Future: ETH Zurich and the Construction of Modern Switzerland 1855 - 2005 (2010) and Geschichte des Nationalparks Hohe Tauern (2013), and co-edited the volume Civilizing Nature: National Parks in Global Historical Perspective (2012).

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