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Professionalisation and the spectacle of nature: understanding changes in the visual imaginaries of private protected area organisations in Australia

Citation

Damiens, FLP and Davison, A and Cooke, B, Professionalisation and the spectacle of nature: understanding changes in the visual imaginaries of private protected area organisations in Australia, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space pp. 1-29. ISSN 2514-8486 (In Press) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright (2022) The Authors. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1177/25148486221129418

Abstract

Imaginaries of protected areas as state-based fortresses have been challenged by expansion of the global nature conservation estate on non-government lands, notably in contexts such as Australia where neoliberal reform has been strong. Little is known about the implications of this change for the meanings, purposes and practices of nature conservation. Images are central to public understandings of nature conservation. We thus investigate the visual communication of environmental non-government organisations (ENGOs) involved in private protected areas in Australia, with particular focus on Bush Heritage Australia (BHA). We employ a three-part design encompassing quantitative and qualitative methods to study the visual imaginaries underlying nature conservation in BHA’s magazines and the web homepages of it and four other ENGOs over 2004–2020. We find that visual imaginaries changed across time, as ENGOs went through an organisational process of professionalisation comprising three dynamics: legitimising, marketising, and differentiating. An imaginary of dedicated Western volunteer groups protecting scenic wilderness was replaced by the spectacle of uplifting and intimate individual encounters with native nature. Amenable to working within rather than transforming dominant political-economic structures, the new imaginary empowers professional ENGOs and their partners as primary carers of nature. It advertises a mediated access to spectacular nature that promises positive emotions and redemption for environmental wrongs to financial supporters of ENGOs. These findings reveal the role of non-government actors under neoliberal conditions in the use of visual representations to shift the meanings, purposes and practices of nature conservation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:NGOs, protected areas, imaginaries of nature, communication
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Political geography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Other environmental management
Objective Field:Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Davison, A (Associate Professor Aidan Davison)
ID Code:153808
Year Published:In Press
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DP180103118)
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-10-07
Last Modified:2022-11-03
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