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Theorizing Logger Religion within the Pacific Northwest Timber Conflict

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

This paper examines the links between the material and symbolic nature of timber extraction during the Pacific Northwest (PNW) timber wars of the 1980s and 1990s. Applying Durkheim’s work on religion and social solidarity, the authors consider a form of logger religion that emerged through many years of PNW timber production, shaping the identities of loggers and timber community dynamics. This paper proposes that forests are spaces that bridge the sacred and profane. Our evaluation examines a totemic meaning assigned to loggers originating from forest-based labour and reinforced by timber communities through rituals. Throughout the timber wars, loggers also developed a conflicted consciousness, stemming from their connection to and the destruction of forests. Given the character of logger religion that existed, the deployment of forest management and community development policies may not adequately re-create tacit relationships between the sacred and profane, previously damaged as a result of the drastic decline in timber production in the PNW.

Affiliations: 1: North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh, NC, USA ; 2: Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA ; 3: Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA


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