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Title: How we are with animals : understanding connection with nature in urban settings through multispecies ethnography
Author: Smith, Harriet
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 3168
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths, University of London
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral