What We Can Learn from Chicago’s Cultures of Nature
This concluding chapter argues that the marginalized Chicagoans who lived in twentieth-century America drew an ecologically problematic line between the “artificial” city and nature and sought to cross it during their leisure. Their desire for contact with nature was not innate but rather a reaction to unique historical circumstances: sudden immersion in a harsh, fast-paced, seemingly artificial urban environment, subjugation to new “unnatural” industrial work regimes, feelings of dislocation and homesickness born of migration, and exposure to transnational variants of romantic nationalism. The chapter also contends that the marginalized people, especially the immigrants, used the city to “cross” national borders and implicitly made “American” parks into transnational spaces. An act similar to the trade union leaders who used Ogden’s Grove as they explicitly branded the idea of the nation as a fiction or opiate invented by the powerful to forestall revolution.
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