Journal of Alpine Research / Revue de géographie alpine

The Dissenting Nights of the Neo-Wood Colliers of the Vercors: A Forest Chronotope for a Heterotopia

For around two decades the charcoal burning festivals of the Vercors have been bringing together a group of individuals – with libertarian and/or ecologist aspirations – for the space of a few weeks to produce an unusual chronotope with the support of the local inhabitants: the erection then carbonisation of a charcoal pit in the forest, around which will be added the village of the “neo-wood colliers” and the festive infrastructures according to the rhythm furnished by the progress of the combustion, in the fashion of a heterotopiacontesting daytime life in the valley. Above and beyond the heritage aspect, this collective experience of the night in a mountain forest does not exclude variations in the realms of the imaginary, symbolic and political. Behind the pretext of charcoal, their protagonists unite through a spatial practice (the clearing) and refer to the two great guardian figures of the region: the wood collier ancestor and the resistance fighter as “clandestines of the ni...

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