Junk in the woods : Yukoners' troubled relationship to the land

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Issue Date
2019-07-06
Authors
Anderson, Drew
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Subject
Critical Discourse Analysis
Ecology
gold rush
narrative
Tourism
Yukon
Abstract
The illegal dumping of discarded materials in the Yukon wilderness is a persistent problem that governments have struggled to contain. At the same time, similar discarded materials are often celebrated as historic artifacts and tourist attractions. Through the analysis of these conflicting news and tourism narratives surrounding junk in the backcountry, this thesis explores the various discourses present in the Yukon that shape how people see their relationship to the land. A critical discourse analysis reveals how narrative is used to reinforce and propagate a dominant ecological discourse of the Yukon environment as a barren and hostile place that must be dominated in order for humans to survive. Junk piles are recontextualized into trophies of human domination, and alternative discourses of stewardship over or unity with the land are either subsumed into the dominant worldview or are actively being removed from the land. This research shows many ways in which the Yukon’s natural environment itself is being shaped into this dominant barren image and calls on Yukoners to recapture a more balanced ecological worldview of the Yukon as a land that does not just threaten human life, but has sustained it for millennia.
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