I have never before attempted to craft a website or do anything of the sort online. As such, my attempts here were initially met with some difficulty. WordPress initially came across as a rather difficult and counterintuitive interface. Eventually, however, I was able to adjust to the program.
Once I had gotten used to using WordPress, this project really started to come together. I was able to focus my attention less on how to use the program and more on research. Initially I had organized my topic geographically. The idea was to illustrate the blurring of culture and nature in different parts of the world. As I was researching my topic, however, I soon realized that this form of organization would not do. Many of the things that I found myself wanting to discuss were not subjects that could be limited geographically. For instance, the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rosseau concerning man in a state of nature were directly relevant to my topic, but it felt wrong to limit such subjects to a page entitled “Europe” since they dealt with the broader ideas of human nature and culture’s relationship with nature. As such, I instead reorganized my website in a way that, I hope, has made it so that when one visits this site they can automatically understand the structure of my argument.
Over the course of working on this project, my thoughts and opinions on it changed in fundamental ways. Originally my argument entailed viewing culture as being under the larger umbrella of nature. This was a conception of culture-nature that I had had for some time before entering this class. I now recognize this conception as being flawed, as it implicitly assigns nature a hierarchical dominance over culture. Culture both affects, and is affected by nature in fundamental ways. The two share a mutually constructive relationship. To assign a hierarchy here would be improper. Articles such as the one written by Andrea Nightingale helped me to see this. As such, my argument became centered on the interrelationship between nature and culture and representing the two as a part of one another. In essence, I have here attempted to represent the culture-nature divide as one that is arbitrary and illusory.
When I first entered this class, I was primarily interested in discussing the culture-nature dualism. Obviously, given the focus of this project, this is still a topic that I find fascinating and important to discuss. However, I now have also become quite interested in the formations of early state systems. This spark of interest is primarily due to our discussions in the graduate section of this course.
I have gotten much out of this project and this course. Personally, I feel more motivated to discuss environmental issues and to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. Intellectually I have grown to appreciate other perspectives and narratives regarding human-environment relations outside of the prevailing narrative of environmental destruction. I have also become much more curious about human-environment relations in general, and will hopefully be applying such interests to an archaeological context for my graduate thesis.