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Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades

Laura A. Ogden
Series: A Quadrant Book
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 200
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Drawing on a decade of fieldwork with hunters in the Everglades, Laura A. Ogden explores the lives and labors of people, animals, and plants in this most delicate and tenacious ecosystem. Swamplife offers a unique insight into the hidden life of the Everglades—and into how an appreciation of oppositional culture and social class operates in our understanding of wilderness in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7702-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Map of Southern Florida and the Greater Everglades Watershed
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Map of Everglades National Park
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xv)
  6. 1. THE FLORIDA EVERGLADES: An Entangled Landscape
    (pp. 1-23)

    As a landscape, the Everglades has epitomized all that we think of as nature at its most uncultivated: an icon infested with frightening reptiles, botanical excess, swarms of mosquitoes, and unforgiving heat. This is the alien and impenetrable Everglades that stymied the attempts of early surveyors and settlers and that continues to provide dramatic flair to countless novels, films, and other accounts of swampland exploration. At the same time, these exotic visions of the landscape have supported widespread practices of landscape transformation, particularly schemes of drainage and development, as they have in the swamps and wetlands throughout the Americas.¹ In...

    (pp. 25-41)

    The Bill Ashley Jungles is a remembered landscape. Glades hunters named the Bill Ashley Jungles after a band of outlaws who hid out in the Everglades during the 1920s. Although there is an actual mangrove swamp within Everglades National Park that corresponds to the mangrove swamp old-timers used to call the Bill Ashley Jungles, it has been over fifty years since that name was part of an active landscape vernacular. Moreover, mangrove landscapes are terribly mobile, and so the mangrove swamp once known as the Bill Ashley Jungles has transformed itself many times in those fifty years. Nor does the...

  8. 3. EARTH, FIRE, AND FLESH: Territorial Refrains
    (pp. 43-71)

    Several years ago I was walking with Glen Simmons, then in his late eighties, down a weedy section of the Old Ingraham Highway, a remnant road within Everglades National Park that once served as a major thoroughfare for backcountry hunters. The day was warm, that welcoming warmth of a southern Florida winter afternoon, and the surrounding marsh was alive with the sounds of flitting warblers, herons, and egrets. In parts of the glades the dry winter parches the earth, and on that day the sweet musty aroma of sun-baked algae mats filled the air. Throughout our slow walk, we bent...

    (pp. 73-93)

    There is no stillness in Robert Walser’s landscapes. Instead, his prose meanders along country lanes and through forest meadows, with hardly a pause for the bustle of a village’s town square. Walser was born in Biel, Switzerland, in 1878, and when not writing in sparsely furnished rented rooms, he spent much of his life out walking. His prose reflects a life, Susan Sontag has suggested, spent “obsessively turning time into space.”¹ Though Walser enjoyed some literary success during his lifetime, with both Franz Kafka and Robert Musil among his admirers, he abandoned writing in 1933 after his forced relocation from...

    (pp. 95-123)

    So far in this book I have shown how in the hunter’s landscape the human and nonhuman worlds are entangled, like a rhizome that is on the move. Enormous snakes lurk in mangrove jungles that are constantly growing and changing even as hunters hack their way through their enclosing roots and branches. While this territorial assemblage is not grounded or fixed, the trajectories I have explored so far have been localized, or at least swampspecific. But of course there are agents of change (sea level rise, development schemes, federal and state water policies, animal rights activists) that stake their claims...

    (pp. 125-151)

    It speaks to the sheer ingenuity of culture that the alligator, such an unlikely creature, has been called upon to meet so many different human needs. The reptiles may weigh hundreds of pounds, can grow to sixteen feet (though about thirteen feet is considered large today), and are certainly cumbersome to transport. Their bodies are elongated and lizard-like. The dermal layer of alligator skin consists of scales, called “scutes,” with bony plates, called “buttons,” embedded in the skin, all creating a tough armor. Alligator jaws are massively strong vices used to impale and crush prey. Alligators grasp larger prey in...

  12. EPILOGUE: THE BILL ASHLEY JUNGLES: Trace Impressions of a Forgotten Landscape
    (pp. 153-158)

    In this book I have used the term “territorial assemblage” to describe those collectives of humans and nonhumans engaged in tasks that result in the demarcation of territory. Landscapes are the product of these assemblages. The territorial claims upon these landscapes extend far beyond the boundaries of southern Florida. No book could do justice to this rhizomic proliferation. My own interests have led me to focus on the territorial assemblages that intervene in the lives of glades hunters. Their experience of the landscape is the lens through which I consider the presence and politics of alligators, mangroves, water, fire, mythic...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 159-178)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 179-186)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 187-187)