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Understanding Place as ‘Home’ and ‘Away’ through Practices of Bird-watching

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Bird-watching is an increasingly popular leisure activity. Previous research has taken for granted the identity of people who watch birds, often categorised by their level of skilled practice as ‘dude’, ‘birder’ or ‘twitcher’. Feminist geographers encourage us to explore identity work as an outcome of the reciprocal relationships between practices and place. Our feminist approach illustrates that the practices of bird-watching are always much more than categorising birds as species. This paper illustrates how the practices of bird-watching are integral to the making and remaking of sense of place as ‘home’ and ‘away’, to sustain identities beyond accepted categories of ‘dude’, ‘birder’ and ‘twitcher’. The creation and application of different types of ‘bird-lists’ helps to explain the ways in which practices of bird-watching facilitate making sense of place as simultaneously ‘home’, ‘away’ and habitat, as well as the identity work of home-maker, citizen-scientist and tourist. Our insights into these leisure practices of bird-watching are drawn from analysis of data gathered from 21 people who actively bird-watch and reside on the South Coast, New South Wales, Australia by combining research methods of talking, walking, drawing and photography.
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Keywords: Embodied geographies; bird-watching; home; leisure; non-human; practice

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Wollongong, Australia

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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