University of Tasmania
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Linguistical choice in Tasmanian environmental discourse : a study of the prevalence and impact of military terminology in the upper Florentine Valley forestry dispute, 2008-2012

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:54 authored by Price, CJ
The project examines the ubiquity and impact of military discourse in the context of disputation over the fate of natural areas. Though typically tense, anger-inducing and confrontational, do such face-offs merit the label 'war'? It is argued here that they do not; that there are defining features of 'war' that do not apply to its metaphoric deployment in environmental conflict. The nature of metaphor and its discursive purpose and standing are first examined, followed by a consideration of the readiness with which warfare metaphors tend to be applied to a range of non-military situations. Environmental discourse is particularly saturated with metaphors borrowed from warfare. The project takes, as a case study, the dramatic on-site confrontation between (mostly) young forest activists and logging contractors and police in the upper Florentine Valley in the Tasmanian south-west. Protesters set up a permanent camp ‚Äö- 'Camp Florentine' ‚Äö- on the proposed line of access to the gazetted forest coupes, remaining determinedly in occupation for several years until logging operations were, for the time being, halted. Using semi-structured interviews a number of principal actors in the dispute were interviewed. Most, but not all, agreed that the use of military terminology in relation to the dispute was inappropriate. On the question of the impact of the widespread use of warfare-derived metaphors on the psychology and consequent comportment of participants in contestation over environmental goods ‚Äö- in this case, wild forest ecosystems ‚Äö- there was even less consensus.


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