Crafting geographies of human-wildlife encounter: visual praxiography in more-than-human worlds
(University of Sheffield)
Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses a collaboration in writing and visualizing critical more-than-human geographies, drawing on textual and visual materials to critically (re)consider the normative framing of 'human-wildlife conflict' in a landscape fraught with violent multispecies encounter.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I will present and discuss a collaboration in writing and visualizing critical more-than-human geographies, drawing on textual and visual materials produced through a collaborative research/activist project conducted in 2015-2016 in Karnataka, India around Bandipur National Park. In concert with my collaborators, we experimented with a form of participant photography as method to complicate normative understandings of multispecies relations cast as 'human-wildlife conflict' in a conservation landscape rife with deathly and destructive encounters between humans, their property (including domestic animals), and a variety of wild animals. The primary aim of the project was to document the everyday experiences of individuals living with a multiplicity of other kinds of animal life in a politically fraught landscape through a public archival practice. Intellectually, the project contributes to experimentations with visual methods for enlivening more-than-human geographies (Hodgetts and Lorimer 2015). In doing so, I sought a practice of doing research more open to multiplicities of entangled and hybrid kinds of life (Sharp et al 2000; Whatmore 2002; Collard 2012), drawing on AnneMarie Mol's concept of praxiography (Mol 2002, 53-55). I approach praxiographic research in the context of more-than-human geographies of human-wildlife encounters as a way to move past epistemic questions of whether we as researchers have most accurately and comprehensively described the reality of human-animal encounters, to ontic questions of being in the world, and how our engagement in making sense of these worlds in effect produces them.