Manifestations of Contradiction: Lakes within the Production/Consumption Dialectic

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Abstract

Much emphasis within Marxist political ecology has focused on the social production of nature. Less attention, however, has been paid to the ways in which an emergent, material nature is an actor in the dialectic of its own appropriation. This paper examines the attempt to capitalize, under simultaneous processes of production and consumption, two proximate yet different Minnesota lakes. Lakes Elysian and Frances represent biophysical nature as process. Yet, their contrasting apparent states of permanence emerge from their dynamic relationships with agriculture, further affecting residential construction on their shores and lake association politics. Information collected from lakes surveys conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and personal interviews with lakes association members provide insight into relational processes that influence the appearance of these lakes. Using this investigation, efforts can be made to resist discourses and practices that reify the existence of “green” lakes as inevitable. It is suggested, then, that a new politics of lakes management should be mediated that is less dependent upon their capitalization.

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