Policy Tectonics
: Theory and Enactment Around the Model for UNESCO Global Geoparks

  • Jonathan Karkut

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis presents an ethnographic examination of a discrete convergence between geology and society. It is communicated through the geoparks model that has shaped a policy of sustainable territorial development, as grown out of a motivation seeking to promote wider awareness and engagement with issues of geological heritage, conservation and sustainable development. The research is devised by way of an adaptive set of methods, bringing data from the field as experienced in rocky outcrops across case study geopark sites, at the formal dissemination of the approach in geopark network conferences, and by informal internet access to a dispersed online community of geoparkians. In so doing I seek to open a window looking out on one perspective of anthropology in the Anthropocene.
The research follows the flow of geoparks policy as guided and shaped by a defining charter and statutes, which after nearly two decades of lobbying and promotion have now become an official programme with the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO). By utilising an anthropological examination of geoparks policy, rather than blandly accepting an essentialised view that aspires to be passed from site to site around the globe as the programme expands, this thesis provides a critical assessment of previously taken for granted terms and mobilizing metaphors. It explores the underpinning philosophy of geology that has impacted upon the forms and direction in which the geoparks are being developed. It evaluates the function and application of a form of audit culture that seeks to ensure accountability and progression as the model is expanded into new territories, and considers how a more singular pure vision of geoparks is being balanced with multiple and often complex enactments, as seen notably through the analysis of how three case study sites; English Riviera Geopark (UK), Katla Geopark (Iceland), and Marble Arch Caves Geopark (UK and Ireland) are practiced on the ground.
Date of Award16 Apr 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorJonathan Skinner (Supervisor) & Garry Marvin (Supervisor)


  • Public policy, geology, geoparks, UNESCO, STS

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