AAG Open Forum

"Unlikely Antiquities: U.S. National Monuments, Public Land, and the Fiction of a Shared National Heritage" LSG 2024 Keynote (Virtual!)

  • 1.  "Unlikely Antiquities: U.S. National Monuments, Public Land, and the Fiction of a Shared National Heritage" LSG 2024 Keynote (Virtual!)

    Posted 24 days ago
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    Dear AAG members,

    The Landscape Specialty Group's Executive Board would like to invite all attendees of the 2024 Annual Meeting to our 2024 Keynote given by Dr. Desirée Valadares, Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Valadares is an award-winning scholar with a background in landscape architecture, urban design, and architectural history.  Her talk is titled, "Unlikely Antiquities: U.S. National Monuments, Public Land, and the Fiction of a Shared National Heritage." 

    Dr. Valadares will discuss the history of federal property transfers and acquisitions in Hawaii that have converted public land to antiquities. Her presentation is anticipated to be of particular relevance to geographers who are interested in topics such as public lands, land rights, heritage-making, and Hawaiian landscapes. The complete abstract for her talk is in the image below and posted at the end of this message.

    Anticipating the 75th anniversary of martial law in Hawai'i in 2015, president Barrack Obama designated the Honouliuli Gulch, a drainage ditch, in his home state. Overnight, a seemingly ordinary irrigation channel, nestled in the central plans of O'ahu in Kunia, was transformed into an

    We are honored to have Dr. Valadares as our Keynote Speaker and hope you will join us on April 16th at 3:20 PM HST in Virtual Room 2.

    Sincerely,

    The LSG Executive Board

    Full text of extended abstract:

    Anticipating the 75th anniversary of martial law in Hawai'i in 2015, president Barrack Obama designated the Honouliuli Gulch, a drainage ditch, in his home state. Overnight, a seemingly ordinary irrigation channel, nestled in the central plans of O'ahu in Kunia, was transformed into an "antiquity."[i] Obama's invocation of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate Honouliuli on February 24, 2015, is noteworthy. As a hallmark of federal U.S. preservation law, this act allows an American president to unilaterally declare sites of natural or cultural significance as national monuments.[ii] At a public ceremony, Obama read aloud Presidential Proclamation 9234, a declaration that placed Honouliuli under auspices of the National Park Service (NPS) for "proper care and management."[iii] By order of the president, Honouliuli was positioned as a landscape "for the enjoyment for future generations" and declared part of "our shared national heritage and national consciousness."[iv]

    In the lead up to Honouliuli's designation, the Obama administration was confounded with a managerial puzzle. The 122.5-acre parcel of interest was the property of Monsanto Company - an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation and a serial violator of federal environmental laws. Declaring Honouliuli as public land required that this site and its right-of-entry be situated on lands that are "owned or controlled" or "may be relinquished to the federal government'- as stipulated in the Act.[v] A "gift" of land through a benevolent land donation from Monsanto to the federal government ultimately qualified Honouliuli's inclusion in the corpus of US national heritage.[vi]

    Why this fanfare over a gulch - a vestige of sugar plantation infrastructure and a ubiquitous part of the Hawaiian landscape? The gulch is a central starting point for this inquiry. More broadly, I seek to understand processes of national heritage-making through the category of "antiquities" in Hawai'i. Tracking the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906, I chart a history of federal property transfers and acquisitions that convert public lands and waters as "shared national heritage." I ask: What exactly is shared? By whom, and under what circumstances?[vii]

    [i] See Proclamation No. 9234 (February 25 2015), https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/24/presidential-proclamation-establishment-honouliuli-national-monument.
    [ii] On June 8, 1906, Congress authorized the U.S. president to protect "objects of historic or scientific interest" on public lands without congressional approval.
    [iii] The Act, in its earliest years, codified established government practice by centralizing power in a tripartite inter-agency cooperation. Today, various state, local, tribal, and private sector policies broaden the scope of legislation on managing cultural resources and historic properties.
    [iv] See Proclamation No. 9234 (February 25 2015), https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/02/24/presidential-proclamation-establishment-honouliuli-national-monument.
    [v] See: Jerry L. Rogers, "The Antiquities Act and Historic Preservation," in Dwight Harmon, Francis McManamon, and Dwight Pitcaithley, The Antiquities Act: A Century of American Archaeology, Historic Preservation, and Nature Conservation, (Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press 2006), 176-177 and Linda Rosenblum, Katherine Orr, and Nicholas Murray., "To Provide for the Enjoyment for Future Generations: The First 100 Years of the National Park Service," in National History Day 2016: Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in History, ed. Lynne O'Hara (Washington, DC: National Park Service, 2016), 31–35.
    [vi] This gesture in 2015 was overshadowed by a spate of 2021 lawsuits against Monsanto (then, acquired by Bayer) for thirty misdemeanor crimes related to the use and storage of a glufosinate ammonium-based pesticide on the islands of O'ahu, Maui, and Molokai See: U.S. Attorney's Office. Central District of California. Press Release: Monsanto Agrees to Plead Guilty to Illegally Using Pesticide at Corn Growing Fields in Hawaii and to Pay Additional $12 Million. [Available] https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/pr/monsanto-agrees-plead-guilty-illegally-using-pesticide-corn-growing-fields-hawaii-and 
    [vii] Amy H. Blackwell & Christopher W. Blackwell, Hijacking Shared Heritage: Cultural Artifacts and Intellectual Property Rights, 13 Chi.-Kent J. Intell. Prop. 137 (2013).



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    Kate Markham
    Landscape Specialty Communications Director
    katherine.markham@uga.edu
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