Loving Nature, Killing Nature, and the Crises of Caring: An Anthropological Investigation of Conflicts Affecting Feral Pig Management in Queensland, Australia
science and technology
place and identity
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
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AbstractThe pursuit of a long term and effective feral pig management strategy remains elusive in the Douglas Shire of Far North Queensland—a part of regional Australia where social relationships and identities have been reconfigured over a 30 year period of environmentally-based contestation. This thesis investigates the sociocultural factors that have contributed to a management impasse over feral pigs within its broader historical and contemporary context. Drawing on theories of belonging, indigeneity and environmental perception, and studies of science and technology, the concepts of endogenous and exogenous identities are developed. These concepts are used to explain the persistence of environmental disputes in this region generally and over the management of feral pigs in particular. Concepts of endogenous and exogenous identities are applied to individuals termed ‘Greenie’, ‘Local’, ‘Ecologist’, ‘Manager’ and ‘Hunter’ who form clusters of identities that are (re)produced relationally and in the technologically mediated practices that also transform this rural place. I demonstrate how exogenous identities, that advance scientific understandings of nature, have been successful in the material and symbolic reshaping of the Douglas Shire and influential in the development Australia’s environmental and animal protection legislation and policy. I argue that it is as a consequence of this reshaping that the (endogenous) practice of pig hunting is increasingly construed as deviant in respect to the law. Illustrating how technologies and scientific knowledge impact on the (re)production of identity and place reveals how these can become objects of dispute and entrenched resistance in environmental interventions. I conclude by arguing that management, as it is currently practiced, has aimed to create reified forms of both nature and culture. By making explicit that environmental management is, necessarily, an activity that reshapes both the environment and identities, I suggest that management planning be reframed to incorporate the preservation of cultural diversity, and continued reproduction of social relationships that are dependent on the environment, as core aims.