Embattled ranchers, endangered species, and urban sprawl: The political ecology of the new American West

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

82 Scopus citations


The modern American West is one of the most contested landscapes in the world, yet anthropologists are just beginning to grapple with its dynamic political ecology. Since World War II, the West has been transformed from an overwhelmingly rural landscape dominated by extractive industries to an overwhelmingly urban landscape characterized by explosive urban, suburban, and ex-urban growth. This review surveys the literature to explore a number of interrelated topics, including (a) the changing economies of the rural West and the production and destruction of space across Western landscapes; (b) the institutional contexts of resource control on public lands; (c) ideological clashes and political maneuvering among interest groups who claim access to those lands; and (d) the struggle to move beyond polemics and dualities and mobilize, in the words of the Quivira Coalition, a "radical center" committed to "foster ecological, economic, and social health on western landscapes."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Anthropology
EditorsWilliam Durham
Number of pages18
StatePublished - 2007

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Anthropology
ISSN (Print)0084-6570


  • Common property theory
  • Community-based collaborative groups
  • Environmentalism
  • Ranching vs. pastoralism
  • Real estate development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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