Parasitizing landscape for UNESCO World Heritage

Thomas J. Puleo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The work of Michel Serres has received recent attention in geographic scholarship, particularly his concept of the parasite. In this article I use this model to investigate an area of geographic study that has remained until now unexamined under this lens: the production of heritage landscapes. Through an engagement with a case from the Valtellina, a valley in the Italian Alps, I demonstrate the logic of the parasite that is evident in the actions of a local nonprofit organization that narratively and materially analyzes (culls), paralyzes (eliminates), and catalyzes (combines) local agricultural terraces in an application to UNESCO's World Heritage list. I do this by parasitizing the terraces and the application myself as I analyze, paralyze, and catalyze them to render a still partial but fuller representation of the valley's historic terraced landscapes. Parasites are ambivalent agents, abusive in some ways but useful in others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-345
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Michel Serres
  • Parasite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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