Cloning America Essay Part I

Reproduced below is an essay that sheds some light on current agricultural issues that no doubt affect the bees. It will be split into parts and provided throughout the week.

Cloning America: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Rewrite History

It has long been a warning amongst the scientific community that when anything is cloned, it loses something. To reproduce an identical copy of an already imperfect being guarantees an impurity — a mutation. This lesson is hardly limited to technological advancement and procedure. It applies to the far more abstract realm of history, culture and geographical identity quite nicely. After all, each one mentioned is a dynamic, living phenomenon.

As the victors of history pass down stories to subsequent generations in the form of education, subjective textbooks and the inherent conditioning associated with parenthood, their children inevitably, and most likely subconsciously, embrace the legacy. They buy the myths of ancestry, consume the bargains on holidays and willingly perpetuate the inequalities of global capitalism all in the name of tradition. This is an understandable version of romanticism. They want their identities to be traceable for future eyes, ears and minds. They long to relive history and recreate it along with their own contemporary hopes, dreams, fears and biases. Therefore, it mutates while retaining the flags and emblems of a history no one fully understands or views objectively. Can this simply be considered a form of survival for an insecure species? And, is tradition itself the culprit or is it just the inability to perceive tradition without eyes that manifest a biased and narrow destiny?

Regardless, the concept is no doubt applicable to America or, more specifically, the United States. What better place to turn this lens than the almighty world superpower – the American geographical juggernaut that consists of overlapping and conflicting histories, cultures and classes piled higher by an endless barrage of diverse and ambitious immigrants.

“During the Gold Rush, whole mountainsides were blasted away by hydraulic mining; many waterways were permanently choked and poisoned by mine tailings; and virtually every tree around major mining areas was cut for timber and firewood. The Native American population and much of the native flora and fauna were driven near extinction” (Walker and Fortmann 471).

Indeed, the concept of cloning, or at least recreating, also applies to the actual geography itself. The state of the environment will continue to be a hot-button political issue. Along with countless other factors, the environment also informs the American identity and determines how those landscapes will be historicized. Whether it’s through gentrification, agricultural mutation or compulsive consumerism, America has been cloned. The copy, however, looks less and less like the frontiers of the United States and more and more like a theme park business.

“Whose Landscape? A Political Ecology of the ‘exurban’ Sierra” is a thorough and telling article by Peter Walker and Louise Fortmann that attempts to tackle such issues.

“This paper examines one such conflict in Nevada County, California – a former mining and ranching community in the Sierra Nevada that has experienced rapid ‘exurban’ in-migration and gentrification. In-migrants brought with them particular ‘aesthetic’ or ‘consumption’ views of landscape that long-time residents with continuing ties to the ‘old’ production landscape viewed as political threats. These tensions have recently ignited a political firestorm over a proposal by the environmentalist-dominated county government to incorporate landscape-scale aesthetic and environmental principles into county planning” (Walker and Fortmann 469).

The article underlines the agenda of a countywide project entitled Natural Heritage 2020.

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