How We Are with Animals: Understanding Connection with Nature in Urban Settings Through Multispecies Ethnography

Smith, Harriet. 2019. How We Are with Animals: Understanding Connection with Nature in Urban Settings Through Multispecies Ethnography. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines how human-animal relations are formative to feelings of connection with nature in urban contexts. The research is undertaken at three field sites in London: the London Zoo, Camley Street Natural Park and Kentish Town City Farm. My investigation attends to the situatedness of multispecies encounters. I provide a relational understanding of urban nature-places and their public engagement practices. I investigate how each organisation’s ontology and epistemology mediates and constructs human and animal encounters at the field sites. I examine this dynamic by critiquing conservation public engagement, and by comparing the zoo and the nature park as conservation based organisations, with the grassroots, multispecies community at the city farm. I utilise a range of methods including multispecies participant observation and participatory experiments and interventions. I pay specific attention to the role of affect and creative activities, such as drawing, as potential tools to engender attunement and embodied communication. I utilise and rework naturalist methods for understanding animals, on the basis that such fieldwork often produces feelings of empathy and attunement between field researchers and research subjects. I investigate how these methods could be repurposed, through participatory interventions, in order to engender more caring and attuned understandings of other animals in urban contexts. I argue that through shifting the value registers towards a non-anthropocentric approach, people feel more included in the more-than-human world.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00026468

Keywords:

Animal studies, multispecies, ethnography, visual sociology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Date:

31 May 2019

Item ID:

26468

Date Deposited:

17 Jun 2019 15:14

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 07:46

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26468

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