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Unit information: More-than-Human Geographies: Animal Geographies & Cultures of Nature in 2020/21

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Unit name More-than-Human Geographies: Animal Geographies & Cultures of Nature
Unit code GEOG20006
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Patchett
Open unit status Not open
Pre-requisites

GEOG10003 Key Concepts in Human and Physical Geography and GEOG10002 Geographical History, Thought and Practices

Co-requisites

N/A

School/department School of Geographical Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Science

Description

The aim of this unit is to explore and develop understandings of the “more-than-human” within geographical research and explanation. The unit is made up of two courses: (1) Cultures of Nature and (2) Animal Geographies. The two self-contained courses will introduce students to key debates and concepts within historical and cultural geographies, with a particular emphasis on the way that environments, nonhuman life, and ecological processes/artefacts can be understood.

COURSE BREAKDOWN:

(1) CULTURES OF NATURE

We often treat ‘culture’ and ‘nature’ as if they are two opposing domains of life, but geographers, anthropologists, political ecologists and others have questioned this division. Ideas of nature vary between cultures and our sense of what is natural tends to rely heavily on particular societal values. Meanwhile, what we call ‘culture’ is increasingly understood to be pervaded by more-than-human agencies and materials, including soil, food, plants, bacteria and tools. This course will focus on the lively debates, concepts, and empirical research areas that are emerging within contemporary geographical thought in relation to nature-culture entanglements. We will cover historical ways of looking at nature, including romanticist approaches and conceptions of ‘paradise;’ cultures of conservation and preservation, including botanical practices, National Parks, and commons preservation; the emergence of ‘planetary’ scale environmental thinking; and conceptual issues surrounding the ‘de-colonising’ of natures and environments.

The aims of this course are to help students develop critical appreciations of (i) contemporary human geographical engagement (including the ontological and epistemological issues raised by that engagement) with more-than-human environments, processes, and knowledges (ii) and the place of that engagement within the development of the discipline.

(2) ANIMAL GEOGRAPHIES

As an important and innovative area of contemporary geographical thought, animal geographies are emerging as a critical component in the development of post-humanist, post-environmentalist enquiry in geography. The course will range from issues of co-construction of human/animal spaces and places (wild, urban and rural), practices of human/animal association (pet keeping, zoos, animal husbandry, etc) to moral and ethical debates over welfare, animal experimentation and biosecurity. Humanist and post-humanist ontologies will be examined, leading to an assessment of ideas of dwelling, hybridity, and cosmopolitics. Finally, the course will critically engage with understandings and conceptualisations of the ‘the human animal’ as a way of reconfiguring “more-than-human” geographies and human/non-human relations.

The aims of this course are to help students develop critical appreciations of (i) contemporary human geographical engagement (including the ontological and epistemological issues raised by that engagement) with non-human animals, environments, and processes, and (ii) the place of that engagement within the development of the discipline.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of this Unit students should be able to:

FOR PART I Cultures of Nature:

1) situate approaches to ‘nature’ within the intellectual history of ecological and environmental ideas;

2) explain how particular cultures of preservation and conservation are entangled with power relations and (post)colonial projects;

3) demonstrate a critical understanding of the contribution of geographical enquiry to the broader ethical, philosophical and political issues associated with the management of more-than-human environments.

FOR PART II Animal Geographies:

4) demonstrate a detailed understanding of the contribution of geographical research to the study of non-humans and of the articulation of this research within other social and natural science domains;

5) demonstrate a critical understanding of the contribution of geographical enquiry to the broader ethical, philosophical and methodological issues associated with human-animal relations and animal-focused research.

Teaching details

Teaching will take place through unit tutorials, 24 lectures with 2-3 compulsory practicals - one of which is a field-visit. Seminars run through both TBs to support student learning. The practical activities provide the opportunity for essay practice by taking part in formative practical exercises in TB1, as well as mock exam feedback in the unit tutorials. Students will be linked to online resources and encouraged to participate in blogs.

Assessment Details

Formative assessment each student will give a formative presentation to their seminar group (three seminars per teaching block). These will be individual presentations in TB1 and group presentations in TB2.

Summative assessment comprises:

Part I Cultures of Nature, one 2000 word essay (50%)

Part II Animal Geographies, one 2000 word essay (50%).

Reading and References

FOR PART I:

Recommended:

  1. Whatmore, S. (2002) Hybrid Geographies: Natures, Cultures, Spaces. London: Sage.
  2. Morton, T. (2007). Ecology without nature: Rethinking environmental aesthetics. Harvard University Press.
  3. Anderson, K. and Braun, B. (2008) Environment: Critical Essays in Human Geography. London: Ashgate.
  4. Braun, B. and Castree, N. (eds) Remaking Reality: Nature at the Millenium. London: Routledge.
  5. Ingold, T. (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London: Routledge.

Essential texts for each lecture are published in advance on Blackboard; students will be asked to read at least two texts per lecture.

Approximately eight further readings are published to Blackboard 1 week before each lecture.

FOR PART II:

Recommended:

  1. Philo, C. and Wilbert, C. (2000) Animal Spaces, Beastly Places. Routledge, London
  2. Haraway, D. (2008) When Species Meet. Minnesota University Press.
  3. Whatmore, S. (2002) Hybrid Geographies. London, Sage
  4. Massumi, B. (2014) What Animals Teach Us about Politics. Duke University Press.
  5. Kalof, L. (2007) The Animals Reader. London, Berg

Essential texts for each lecture are published in advance on Blackboard; students will be asked to read at least two texts per lecture.

Approximately eight further readings are published to Blackboard 1 week before each lecture.

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