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Title: Rede of reeds : land and labour in rural Norfolk
Author: Woolley, Jonathan Paget
ISNI:       0000 0004 7227 0958
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The central aim of this thesis is to provide a detailed ethnographic account of the human ecology of the Broads - a protected wetland region in the East of England - focussing upon how working lives shape and are shaped by this reedy landscape. In conversations about the management of the Broads, the concept of "common sense" is a frequent trope; encompassing a wide range of associated meanings. But what are these meanings of "common sense" in English culture, and how do they influence the peoples of England, and landscapes in which they work? This thesis addresses these questions ethnographically; using academic and lay deployments of common sense as a route into the political economy of rural Norfolk. Based on 12 months of fieldwork in the Broads National Park, this thesis draws together interviews and participant observation with land managers of various kinds - including conservationists, farmers, gamekeepers, volunteers, gardeners, and administrators. Chapter 1 dissects the differences between academic and popular understandings of "common sense" as a phrase, and produces an ethnographically-derived, working definition. Chapter 2 examines the attitudes of farmers, establishing "the common" as a root metaphor for social and practical rectitude, actualised through labouring in a shared landscape. Chapter 3 explores how the common is sensed, reflecting upon the diverse sensoria afforded by different degrees of enclosure on a single nature reserve. Chapter 4 explores how the concept of common sense intersects with a prevailing culture of possessive individualism, creating a fragmented society in the Park, wracked by controversies over management. Chapter 5 examines bureaucracy in Broadland - frequently cast as the very antithesis of common sense. In the conclusion, we return to the title, and ask - what do the reeds have to say about land, labour, and human nature?
Supervisor: Irvine, Richard ; Sneath, David Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Wetland ; Anthropology ; Ethnography ; Common sense ; Commoning ; Bureaucracy ; Landscape ; Dwelling ; Sensory ; Siloing ; Community ; Parish ; Political economy ; British ; English ; Britain ; England ; Environmental Anthropology ; Broads ; Norfolk ; Broads National Park ; East Anglia ; Anthropocene ; Human ; Social Anthropology ; Cultural Anthropology ; English culture ; English language ; Pierre Bourdieu ; Water ; Fen ; Conservation ; Knowledge ; Experience ; Place