Bowerbank's critique challenged
Drawing on Foucault's (1977/1995; 1976/1998) notions of surveillance and disciplinary practices, Bowerbank (1998) suggests that natural history journals and other "ecological identity work" (see Thomashow, 1996) "have long histories as disciplinary practices" (p. 167). Her critique suggests natural history journals push students to have and articulate particular kinds of connecting experiences as they reflect upon and write about experiences in the natural world.
While deconstructive readings such as Bowerbank's (1998) may have merit in some instances, they risk reinscribing the more-than-human world as lacking agency. Similarly, they do not take into account the power associated with, and the continuous policing that ensures that humans maintain their dominant and unmarked
position vis-à-vis animate Earth and make it virtually impossible for them to hear or acknowledge the non-human Other and its communicative abilities. Together with challenges of anthropomorphism, these accusations make it difficult to identify and embody an ecological self that can speak and hear across the socially constructed, and vigorously maintained, human/nature divide.
Shift these basic anthropocentric assumptions and nature writing, natural history journals, or even eco-confessionals (Thomashow, 1996) can be read as openings to discourses of non-dominant co-existence that just might enable the writer or reader to " refigure the kind of person [she] might be" (see Haraway, 1991a, p. 3).