Claims that educational activities such as nature writing, eco-confessionals and natural history journals (Thomashow, 1996; see also, Fawcett, Bell, Russell, 2001) are disciplinary practices (see Bowerbank, 1998) are possible based on the generally unnamed and uncontested assumption, within most
post-theorizing, that humans are separate from and superior to
non-human Others (Russell, 2005), and that non-human Others have neither consciousness, intentionality nor agency in their interactions with humans. These readings do not take into
account the continuous policing
that ensures that humans maintain their dominant and unmarked position, and non-human Others, their position of marginalization.
Shift some basic assumptions about the communicative abilities of non-human Others, and these same activities 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).
For me, writing a natural history journal was one of the few places I had an opportunity to explore and express
felt connection with non-human Others
within a Masters' of Environmental
"I always to a
certain extent wanted to think that I was out of the box anyway and tried to
think outside the box, but it’s not the easiest thing to do when the box is set
up for thinking within it" (Jeff, interview, May 2003).
How do I avoid becoming the master interpreter, and my research becoming another surveillance strategy (Lather, 2001)? I am reminded by St. Pierre and Pillow's (2000) admonition that it is important to turn a feminist poststructural analysis back on itself to examine "the functions and effects of any structure or grid of regularity that [theorists] put into place, including those poststructuralism itself might create" (p. 6). I am also contemplating Jones and Jenkins' (2008) concern that an ongoing desire for and comfort with multiple interpretations may be the privilege of those who share a common, and dominant storyline.
Even as I write about (re)connection, I risk silencing the voices not able to speak in human tongues. Unless I learn their languages.