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Caroline Ford Published an Article in Comparative Studies in Society and History
January 24, 2023

Caroline Ford published an article titled, "The Environmental Transformation of Empty Space: From Desert to Forest in the Landes of Southwestern France" in Comparative Studies in Society and History (2023). First View access: https://www.doi.org/10.1017/S0010417522000482.

This article explores the environmental transformation of the moorland of southwestern France from a much maligned “wilderness” or “empty space” to a forested landscape coveted for its productive potential as well as its aesthetic beauty.  Drawing on paradigms of colonial rule and Henri Lefebvre’s theory regarding the production of space, the article examines the eradication of the “wilderness” of the region of the Landes, which led to the displacement of its pastoral populations and the end of their way of life. It explores the role of technology in consolidating the power of territorial states and empires and the significance of the parallels that can be drawn between the Landes and France’s overseas empire. Finally, it attests to the porosity of the boundary between man- made and natural landscapes, while illuminating the process by which the artificial forested landscape of the Landes ironically came to be redefined and revalorized as “natural” national heritage that was ripe for environmental protection by the second half of the twentieth century.