Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Advanced)
School of Earth & Environmental Science
Wilkinson, Carrie, Understanding the embodied geographic knowledge of people who watch birds: an exploration of encounter, performance and “becoming”, Bachelor of Science (Honours) (Advanced), School of Earth & Environmental Science, University of Wollongong, 2013.
Outside of positivist approaches little is known about the experiences, expectations and practices of people who watch birds in Australia. Given the centrality of bird-watching to the tourism industry, as leisure practice and as citizen science, the lack of critical geographical scholarship in this context is surprising. For this reason the post-structuralist feminist approach offered in this thesis enables possibilities to reconceptualise bird-watching as an inherently embodied and situated experience. This conceptual approach is central to understanding how people "become" "bird-watchers" at the intersections of discourse, technology, human bodies, non-human bodies and space. Empirical data was sourced through semi-structured interviews, participant observation and photo-elicitation interviews with people who watch birds on the South Coast of New South Wales. The combination of these methods sought to capture the richness and complexity of participants’ lived bird-watching experiences. Results presented over three chapters offer new insight into the embodied and situated experiences of bird-watching. The first examines how bird-watching is reliant upon embodied geographical knowledge and technologies that facilitate proximity between humans and birds. The second explores the contradictory embodied geographical knowledge of people who watch birds as environmental citizens. The final results chapter investigates how people negotiate "becoming" "bird-watcher" in their everyday lives, and how embodied geographical knowledge may transform over a life-course as parents, through ageing and as homemakers. The conclusion sets a research agenda drawing on the geographical perspective in this thesis to rethink the relationship between birds, people, technologies and space.