Julia Sizek

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9561

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Sizek, Julia M., U. of California, Berkeley, CA - To aid research on 'Conservation at its Limit: Environmental Uncertainty and Native American Land Conservation in the Mojave Desert,' supervised by Dr. Donald Moore

This project examines how the intertribal Native American Land Conservancy (NALC) and its partners negotiate the cultural politics of land conservation under conditions of environmental uncertainty in the Eastern Mojave Desert. This region has long remained understudied and unknown, in part because it was seen as ecological and social Other to California’s coasts and forests. I examine how land conservationists contend with this lack of knowledge, particularly as it relates to a form of dual environmental uncertainty–the desert’s peopled past and scientific uncertainty. I argue that this uncertainty provides for a for contestation in land conservation practices that both have implications for how Native American history and scientific uncertainty that characterizes the Mojave is understood. I ask: what do land conservation practices reveal about the political, social, and ecological underpinnings of environmentalism, and how do these practices reflect contemporary conditions of environmental uncertainty? What do environmental uncertainty and Native American land management practices show us about the limits of conservation science and common management practices? To answer these questions, I will examine land conservation practices as a contested ground of cultural politics in which land conservationists test ideas about the environment and its peopled histories, and attempt to make new forms of land conservation that critique class- and race-based exclusions that have constituted environmentalism. This research contributes to scholarship on the cultural politics of environment as well as the anthropology of Native Americans.