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Urban nature and Australian environmentalism: the urban experience of members of environmental groups in Hobart and Perth


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Davison, A 2006 , 'Urban nature and Australian environmentalism: the urban experience of members of environmental groups in Hobart and Perth', paper presented at the 2nd State of Australian Cities Conference, 30 Nov - 02 Dec 2005, Brisbane, Australia.

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Since the 1960s, the defence of nature in Australia has been predominantly and explicitly organised around the idea of wilderness and, more implicitly, around its antithesis, the city. In this defence, real, authentic nature is argued to begin at road's end, beyond the lights of the city. By implication, the sub/urban majority of the population has been understood to live in tragically fallen environments in which dreams of escape offer most hope of reunion with nature. Over the last fifteen years, stories of nature not built around the purity of wilderness and the impurity of the city have begun to be told with increasing confidence. Many of these 'new' natures bring with them strategies of nature advocacy that offer a less dispiriting picture of urban and suburban environments. These strategies are an important yet ill-understood aspect of the growing diversity and complexity of environmental social movements in Australia. This paper investigates some of these recent changes by, first, surveying recent academic and public interest in urban nature in Australia, and, second, relating this interest to analysis of environmental social movements via a preliminary report on interviews with members of The Greens and The Wilderness Society living in Hobart and Perth. This research focuses on the often dissonant relationship between life-histories, everyday sub/urban experience and environmentalist discourse. It seeks to extend understanding not just of the on-going re-invention of environmental concern, but also to advance discussion about sub/urban sustainability through exploring possibilities for a more self-reflexive environmentalist advocacy of nature.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Davison, A
Keywords: environmentalism, urban nature, semi-structured interviews, Australian cities
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