Language and Groundwater: Symbolic Gradients of the Anthropocene




Adams, Paul C.

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American Association of Geographers


This article argues that geographers must study the power of words as integral parts of human–environment relationships, with particular attention to local meanings, to intervene more effectively in the Anthropocene. Words are important tools by which people come to understand environmental changes and develop plans to facilitate mitigation and adaptation or, alternatively, to postpone these responses. This project considers the portion of Texas underlain by the Ogallala aquifer as a system of communication, exploring stakeholder articulations through in-depth interviews. The semiotic concepts of gradients, grading, degradation, and grace are employed to facilitate consideration of how verbal articulations intersect with resource use, conservation, anthropogenic environmental change, and action within a highly conservative political context.


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