How the West Was Spun: The De-politicization of Fire in the American West
Diverse groups in the American West extract profits and surplus value from fire-prone areas at the urban periphery while inserting considerable social risks and costs back onto the landscape. To better excavate these drivers of increased risk (referred to here as ‘the Incendiary’), this chapter suggests a Critical Physical Geography approach to fire that shifts our focus from the study of wildland-urban interface areas to the study of affluence-vulnerability interface processes. This approach is particularly important because reckless resource management and planning practices are de-politicized and obscured behind a series of scientific framings and policy debates. Suburban areas and their injurious and costly wildfires are ‘spun’ as strangely natural and inevitable. A second process of re-politicization supports this de-politicization by filling the debate arena with other distracting ideological disputes and micro-scale controversies.
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