Year of Publication

2022

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department/School/Program

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. J. Anthony Stallins

Abstract

Urban political ecology research increasingly engages multi-disciplinary methodologies to clarify the role that the botanic plays in creating, maintaining, or subverting ecological geographies of power. Fredrick Law Olmsted intended the forest within Franklin Park to heal the physical degeneration and social disunity he believed resulted from urban living conditions but instead the forest within Franklin Park has grown in contexts of increasingly complex environmental and racial difference. I examine how the urban forest in Boston’s Franklin Park has ecologically manifested racialized power relations through distinct periods of elite nature-making and segregated grassroots stewardship. I utilized archival research, forest surveys, and semi-structured interviews to trace the influence of race on forest socio-successional processes and its implication for future forests. I found that periods of racialized land management have formed ecological signatures in the forest strata and shifted forest succession, leaving the forest vulnerable to being inscribed into the processes of green gentrification through forest revitalization. Furthermore, these forest processes create a unique and place-based socio-ecology that reflects the racial tensions in Boston since Franklin Park’s establishment. This research complicates the alleged political neutrality of historical and ecological forest restoration. Utilizing a “just green enough” approach, I caution against urban greening initiatives for climate resilience remaking place-based natures and discuss the ways spontaneous vegetation can become collaborators in ecologies of resistance.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2022.123

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