Colonialism, Clear-Cuts, and Conservation Medicine: An Autoethnographic Journey Towards an Ecological Self

Julia Whitfield

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Abstract / Description of output

In this research, I explored how to begin to let go of settler colonial knowledge systems, harmful assumptions in conservation, and dualistic thinking. I started to heal my relationship with self, other, place, and other-than-human beings. Making kin and becoming-with others, created rich possibilities for multispecies flourishing and worlding. Conservation Medicine aims to be transdisciplinary but has typically operated from a positivist paradigm that can be racially biased, anthropocentric, and exclude other ways of knowing. I instead worked within a holistic constructivist paradigm. I used an autoethnographic approach that involved reflecting on and studying the self within the context of culture and have employed an evocative narrative style. I engaged deeply with
feminist and Indigenous literature, my memories, experiences, and personal reflections. As I entangled my life with the critters that moved in and through my circle, they became my teachers. I expanded my notion of self to one that is more permeable and widened and began moving from a place of ego-identity to one of eco-identity, towards an ecological self. I was made and remade by place and the critters around me. I argue that healing our relationships and movement towards an ecological self will allow Conservation Medicine practitioners to carry out work that engages with complexity and is more just, inclusive, and thoughtful and less anthropocentric and thoughtless. This dissertation will help to expand our definition of what Conservation Medicine practices can look like, outside of positivist paradigms, and allow the field to push through limiting boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Cousquer, Glen, Supervisor
  • Nicol, Robbie, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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