The start of the twenty-first century is marked by new levels of globaliza- tion, environmental degradation, and social conflict that are endangering the cultural landscapes and agrarian heritage of rural areas. In the wake of these threats, heritage profes- sionals are imagining new, holistic models for shared cultural and natural heritage protec- tion that support active community engagement around issues of cultural identity, material and ecological sustainability, and shared ethical values. Agricultural land conservation is fertile terrain in which to theorize how heritage protection can contribute to the mobiliza- tion of social cohesion to restore a balanced human ecology. Agrarian land tenure challenges heritage advocates to bridge the conventional binary of nature/culture that has divided heritage resource protection strategies and to support the protection of working, populated cultural landscapes. Over the past 35 years in the United States, a number of agricultural land protection programs have emerged that depend upon a complex web of cooperation among landowners, governments, and private land trusts to purchase development rights on farmland. I propose that such programs are both symptoms of and coping strategies for broader processes of socio-economic alienation. This paper focuses on a New England case study to explore the potential for agricultural land protection as a framework for shared heritage protection. Based on the results and research connected with this case study, I offer a theoretical and ethical framework of heritage protection as a culturally mediated discursive practice of community-building—one that references the past in order to intervene in pres- ent alienating processes and secure a recognizable future.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/angela_labrador/6/