SOAN-450 Senior Inquiry/Capstone

Document Type

Student Paper

Publication Date

Spring 5-2020


Anthropology | Environmental Policy | Geographic Information Sciences | Human Ecology | Human Geography | Nature and Society Relations | Place and Environment | Remote Sensing | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning

Description, Abstract, or Artist's Statement

In an era of rapid urbanization, changing climate, and increasing political division, parks represent increasingly important places for urban residents to interact with and feel connected to the natural environment and receive a number of mental and physical health benefits. Unfortunately, in an age of austerity politics, parks and recreation departments in Midwest Rust Belt cities often lack adequate funding to maintain such public spaces. Recently, the business-minded Rock Island, Illinois Department of Parks and Recreation has implemented a creative cost-saving management solution: “naturalizing” sections of its city parks. This interdisciplinary study uses a mixed methods approach to discover how the community members near two representative urban parks in Rock Island perceive this economically motivated accidental “rewilding” of long-manicured and domesticated urban nature. Resident reactions reveal enduring conceptions of a culture-nature divide, as well as the proper, upper class, white ideologies that have historically shaped park construction and use in the United States.


This is my anthropology S.I. research project paper. Dr. Adam Kaul and Dr. Meg du Bray were both advisors, but all writing and work is my own. The attached Word doc includes the full text as well as several appendices with additional content.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License