Article Title

Aliens in the Garden


This Article examines environmental rhetoric and argues that a nationalist conception of nature has long distorted environmental policies. Environmental discourse frequently seeks to explain the natural world by reference to the world of nations, a phenomenon that can be characterizeda s the "nationalizationo f nature." A contemporary example of the nationalization of nature is the rhetoric of "Invasive species," which depicts harmful foreign plants and animals in ways that bear an uncanny resemblance to the demonization of foreigners by opponents of immigration. A typical newspaper article about invasive species, bearing the headline "Eeeeek! The eels are coming!," warned about an influx of "Asian swamp eels" and described them as "slimy, beady-eyed immigrants." The nationalization of nature is a longstanding trope in American environmental discourse, as policies toward native and foreign plants and animals have long expressed attitudes toward native and foreign peoples. Although the metaphor of "invasive species" can be helpful in understanding the phenomenon of introduced species, conceiving of environmental problems through the lens of nationalism distorts environmental policies by projecting onto nature unrelated anxieties about national security and national identity.