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Consuming Space, Nature and Culture: Patrimonial Discussions in the Hyper-Modern Era

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This paper reflects on what is called the process of 'patrimonialization' of culture and nature currently taking place in the Western mountainous inlands of the Spanish Eastern Pyrenees. Landscapes, as cultural and historical formations, are presently being commodified and connected to global networks of consumption dominated by urban and 'postmaterialistic' values. Conservation policies, ski resorts and cultural museums are mushrooming in previously 'abandoned' agricultural fields or vacated factories. This shift from agriculture, ranching and industry, to conservation and services marks the connection of the Pyrenean valleys to global modernity and to the hyper-modern era. These processes of transformation have been depicted generally as structural processes of unilateral redefinition of the urban-rural divide: redefinition that results in direct urban appropriation. Rural populations, however, are far from passive subjects of external influences. The analysis of local agency suggests a more complicated picture in which local economic and cultural choices are included as explanatory variables. The story of the connection of these spaces to regional and global networks is not only a story about local dispossession, but also about local ingenuity. The globalization of the economy in the early 1970s disempowered and relegated these areas to the periphery of the economic system. The consolidation of a global modernity articulated around the need to provide leisure has opened a venue for these areas to reconnect themselves to the central networks and to attract large amounts of resources from these urban-dominated economic systems.
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Keywords: Pyrenees; Spain; globalization; land use; landscape; leisure economy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anthropology and McGill School of Environment, McGill University, Montreal, Canada 2: Department of Sociocultural Anthropology and History of America and Africa, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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