Controlling the forest understory: wild mushroom politics in central Oregon
McLain, Rebecca J. (Rebecca Jean)
MetadataShow full item record
In this dissertation, I illustrate how disciplinary power techniques are being used today to extend and solidify state control over forest understory products located on national forest lands in the Pacific Northwest. The spring wild mushroom harvest on the Sisters Ranger District in central Oregon serves as a case study for exploring this topic. I used a political ecology framework to analyze wild mushroom politics at Sisters. I relied upon ethnographic methods, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and archival analysis, to gather data.My work indicates that the Sisters Ranger District is using five elements of disciplinary power noted by Foucault in efforts to solidify control over the activities of commercial wild mushroom harvesters. The elements in use include: (1) categorization of pickers; (2) separation of commercial pickers from other forest users; (3) development of a documenting apparatus in the form of a variety of permit requirements; (4) creation of a wild mushroom "panopticon" in the form of a heavily monitored wild mushroom buying camp; and (5) a movement toward professionalization of the knowledge accepted as valid within the forest management decision-making process.The application of these disciplinary power techniques has created considerable tension between wild mushroom pickers and buyers and the Forest Service. These tensions revolve in part around the Forest Service's failure to include pickers and buyers in key decisions affecting their lives, such as the establishment and siting of an industrial wild mushroom camp. The disciplinary apparatus also works by fixing people in place and time in order to facilitate monitoring and tracking of activities and individuals. Yet mobility and flexibility constitute the very core of pickers and buyers lives. Lastly, the disciplinary power apparatus has transformed what were once picker living spaces into industrial work places. Much of the current resistance to the Forest Service's wild mushroom policies stem from pickers and buyers' feelings of having lost control, not just over their work, but over their lives.
- Forestry