Anthoethnography: Emerging research into the culture of flora, aesthetic experience of plants, and the wildflower tourism of the future

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Abstract

Anthoethnography is the use of ethnographic practices for researching the human relationship to flowers. This article proposes the emerging concept of anthoethnography for investigating wildflower tourism as a culture of flowers in the biodiverse Southwest region of Western Australia. Through an analysis of its history, contemporary practice and aesthetic values, I argue that a future direction for wildflower tourism entails material conservation, spiritual engagement and multi-sensory embodiment. The construction of wildflowers as images follows the critique of visuality, posed by critical theorists such as Heidegger and Mules. The history and rhetoric of flower tourism demonstrates the pre-eminence accorded to visual appreciation of plants. Rather than wildflower tourism, botanical appreciation suggests engagement including the whole plant throughout the seasons and through various human sensory faculties. Excerpts from interviews conducted with wildflower tourists, plant enthusiasts, and tourism venue operators in 2009 indicate diverse perceptual and experiential modes for interacting with flowering biodiversity. Those discussed include the orchid and everlasting effects, scientific knowledge in wildflower appreciation, and the connectivity of Aboriginal material and spiritual knowledge of plants. Anthoethnography responds to a consciousness amongst botanists and enthusiasts in the region of the need for the practices of wildflower tourism to engage with realities of plant conservation in the twenty-first century.       
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-40
Number of pages13
JournalNew Scholar
Volume1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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