Women and the environment: an indicative study on Tamborine Mountain, Queensland

Sewell, Sandra (2014) Women and the environment: an indicative study on Tamborine Mountain, Queensland. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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In this thesis, I give an account of a doctoral research project to explore, understand and document women's care for the environment. The origins of the research have been in my observations that women care for place in ways that are distinctive and different from men's. The research reflects my concerns about the impacts of environmental degradation, climate change and consequent dislocations at local level, and indicates the contributions that women can make to care for the places where they live – in this case, Tamborine Mountain in Yugambeh country in the hinterland of south-east Queensland.

As a geographically bounded, consciously distinctive town of almost seven thousand residents, Tamborine Mountain provides a highly appropriate location for this research. The seven national parks on the Mountain offer local women a range of opportunities to care for their natural environment in practical ways, both individually on their own properties and collectively through programs such as Landcare. Similarly, there is a range of local sustainability initiatives on the Mountain, including a community garden, a local producers' market, and a Transition Town group. The 1.3 million visitors to the Mountain every year both underpin the local economy and put pressure on the environment they come to enjoy. As the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation become more marked, Tamborine Mountain women have compelling reasons – environmental and economic – to care for place. In this, the philosophy and practice of Indigenous care for country have much of value to teach.

The thesis begins with an examination of the nature and design of the research, the theoretical framework, and the sometimes contested meanings of terms such as 'difference', 'community', 'care', and 'feminism'. The review of literature reports on research-relevant literature through the lens of Indigenous care for country, feminist concepts of difference, feminist locality practice, and recent Australian ecofeminist analyses. In particular, I draw on and discuss the work of Luce Irigaray, Indigenous elders Mary Graham and Lilla Watson, and the late Val Plumwood's critical ecological feminism. The methodology chapter canvasses the nature and appropriateness of qualitative, feminist participatory research, including local history, interview and photovoice methods. Chapters 4 to 7 report the findings from the three research stages: local history research into past environmental care seen through the lives and work of three Mountain women; a set of 11 individual interviews to discern the contribution that Indigenous 'belonging to country' can make, and six individual interviews to discern what difference organisational affiliation can make to women's environmental practices; a photovoice project to make visible local women's connections with and commitments to the environment.

In Chapter 8, the concluding chapter, I discuss the implications of the research findings for practice, education and future research in women's environmental care at local level. The thesis concludes with a substantial bibliography as a potential resource for interested colleagues and scholars.

I hope the research reported here, through an indicative study on Tamborine Mountain, will help make women's insights and environmental practices more widely known, especially at local level. In the tradition of feminist research, I hope it will also provoke thought and discussion, foster further research and, in doing so, honour the contributions that women can make to local environmental sustainability and well-being.

Item ID: 35058
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: care; caring; ecofeminism; ecological feminism; environment; environmental practices; feminism; feminist; Mount Tamborine; Mt. Tambourine; south east QLD; southeast Queensland; south-east Queensland; Tamborine Mountain; women; Yugambeh country
Additional Information:

For this thesis, Sandra Sewell received the Dean's Award for Excellence 2015.

Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2014 04:40
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169901 Gender Specific Studies @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960909 Mountain and High Country Land and Water Management @ 50%
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