Fall 2020, 50.5, pages: 352-367
The Moving Boundaries of Bears Ears: Ecological Rhetorics and the Shrinking of a Monument
In this essay, I argue that neoliberalism should be thought of ecologically. Working from the ecological turn in rhetorical studies, I hold that ecology is often used as a framework to describe how rhetorics interact, transform, and alter one another. Understood in terms of interaction, transformation, and alteration, neoliberalism fundamentally transforms (and is transformed by) the rhetorics and discourses with which it comes into contact. I demonstrate this process of transformation through the case of Bears Ears National Monument’s shrinking boundaries as they came into contact with the different neoliberal commitments of two presidents, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Following the presidents’ different neoliberalisms, I show that both neoliberalism and the boundaries changed through interactions with factors in the monument’s dynamic ecology.