Interpreting Mountains: Histories, Narratives, Geographies
This interdisciplinary panel explores the multiple ways in which mountains have been – and can be - interpreted as unique sites for culture to be created, constructed, and shaped. Historian Ilaria Scaglia provides an overview of the dynamics through which the Alps were incorporated as a key element in internationalist rhetoric in the 1920s and 1930s, emphasizing the importance of aesthetics and emotions in this context. Elizabeth Mazzolini (Department of English) examines the transformative power of mountains: as shown by the case of meth, the Appalachians and the Ozarks served not only as a location but also as a crucial aesthetic, cultural, and political milieu for the construction of discourses of fear and threat. From the perspective of mountain geography, Fausto O. Sarmiento puts forth the idea that culture and biocultural heritage play an important role in shaping the Andes – and mountains as a whole - and should therefore be incorporated in their scientific study. Bringing together History, English, and Geography, this panel argues for an increased collaboration across disciplinary boundaries to further our understanding of the human experience and of the distinctive place of mountains within it.