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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 436-460

From Hostile Backwater to Natural Wilderness: On the Relocation of 'Nature' in Epirus, Northwestern Greece

School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Roscoe Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Sarah F Green
School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester, Roscoe Building, Brunswick Street, Manchester M13 9PL
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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This paper focuses on a familiar process underway in recent years in many parts of Europe and indeed much of the rest of the world: the attempt (usually policy-led) to redefine relatively remote and depopulated ar­eas as sites of natural and/or cultural heritage, in order to enhance the viabil­ity of such regions. [1] Many studies have focused upon what this process means in cultural, political and/or environmental terms. [2] This paper concentrates in­stead on what such 're-branding' means in terms of the relative location and reputation of such remote regions: do peripheral places become more central as a result of being given a new gloss of cultural and/or natural heritage paint? Using ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Epirus, northwestern Greece, the paper argues that both past representations of Epirus as a 'hos­tile backwater' and more recent ones as 'natural wilderness' generate a simi­lar relative location between Epirus and elsewhere: i.e. that it is peripheral in relation to an imagined centre of things. The implication is that while con­cepts of nature and culture have been on the move in recent years, the past hierarchies distinguishing more marginal (and more 'natural') places from more central (and more 'cultural') places have been reiterated.

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