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Nature’s Agency in Shaping Place: The Oysters and Marshlands of Jamaica Bay, New York

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Abstract:

This paper examines the role of nature’s agency in shaping the socio-environmental relations of New York City’s Jamaica Bay. Using environmental history, this paper explores how the operation of key estuarine features – marshlands and oysters – can shape political, economic, and social life along the Bay. The paper traces the role of marshes and oysters in shaping the Bay’s history as a resort site, an industrial site, a site for John F. Kennedy Airport, and its current status as a recreation site that is part of the National Park Service. By highlighting nature’s agency, this paper draws attention to the subtle and ordinary ways humans are dependent on, and embedded in, eco-system processes, showing that the social reproduction of the human-nature relationship depends on ecosystems that are alive and active. In doing so, this approach dislodges the notion that humans are in total control of history without slipping into the environmental determinism feared by so many early sociologists. Rather, examining marshlands and oysters in their ecological context demonstrates the material and cultural fluidity of place – the give and take, the action and reaction, of human relationships within, and to, a specific ecosystem.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

oyster (255), bay (223), jamaica (152), water (126), marsh (90), natur (57), land (54), new (54), island (52), marshland (51), citi (49), plant (48), time (47), state (45), bed (44), public (44), year (41), right (40), york (40), local (39), shell (39),
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Association:
Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p565722_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Van Hooreweghe, Kristen. "Nature’s Agency in Shaping Place: The Oysters and Marshlands of Jamaica Bay, New York" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Colorado Convention Center and Hyatt Regency, Denver, CO, Aug 16, 2012 <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p565722_index.html>

APA Citation:

Van Hooreweghe, K. L. , 2012-08-16 "Nature’s Agency in Shaping Place: The Oysters and Marshlands of Jamaica Bay, New York" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Colorado Convention Center and Hyatt Regency, Denver, CO Online <PDF>. 2014-12-12 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p565722_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper examines the role of nature’s agency in shaping the socio-environmental relations of New York City’s Jamaica Bay. Using environmental history, this paper explores how the operation of key estuarine features – marshlands and oysters – can shape political, economic, and social life along the Bay. The paper traces the role of marshes and oysters in shaping the Bay’s history as a resort site, an industrial site, a site for John F. Kennedy Airport, and its current status as a recreation site that is part of the National Park Service. By highlighting nature’s agency, this paper draws attention to the subtle and ordinary ways humans are dependent on, and embedded in, eco-system processes, showing that the social reproduction of the human-nature relationship depends on ecosystems that are alive and active. In doing so, this approach dislodges the notion that humans are in total control of history without slipping into the environmental determinism feared by so many early sociologists. Rather, examining marshlands and oysters in their ecological context demonstrates the material and cultural fluidity of place – the give and take, the action and reaction, of human relationships within, and to, a specific ecosystem.


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