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Resisting and Reconciling Big Wind: Middle Landscape Politics in the New American West



Abstract:  While critical geographers have addressed how place politics impacts rural landscapes, less attention has been paid to the particular ways in which rural landscape identities are being impacted by the new energy economy. The nascent US wind energy opposition movement is evidence of broad, organized resistance to the landscape impacts associated with the re-sculpting of rural energy geographies. Drawing from cultural landscape and place theory, this article examines the shifting terrain of wind opposition in the “New American West”. The article argues that wind energy opposition is fundamentally about who speaks for and negotiates conflicting social commitments to technology, economic values and an imagined American pastoral identity. By examining a case study of wind development in Nevada, this article considers how renewable energy development can constructively acknowledge the important role the “middle landscape” continues to play in American constructions of rural space.

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