‘Storytelling’ Natural Resource Conflict on U.S. Public Lands

Julie V Brugger, Mitchel P. McClaran, James E. Sprinkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Livestock grazing is an extensive and long-standing natural resource use on U.S. public lands that has become extremely controversial in recent decades. In this article, we approach the controversy over public lands grazing as an ‘ontological conflict’ that goes beyond a struggle over different perspectives on nature/reality and involves the ongoing making of different realities/worlds. We bring together historical and ethnographic material from the Tonto National Forest in Arizona in a verbal and visual process of ‘storytelling’ to show how multiple and conflicting imaginations of the public rangelands have emerged and taken on or lost reality over time through multiple, shifting, and often contradictory processes of translation of the relationships among entities in a network that includes humans, nonhumans, discursive and social structures, and social forces. While this approach was originally developed in the context of indigenous studies, it has much to offer in the study of non-indigenous resource conflicts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-78
Number of pages25
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Actor Network Theory
  • Natural resource conflict
  • U.S. public lands
  • livestock grazing
  • relational ontology
  • translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology


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