Reconstituting the Representational Identities of Nature in the Urban Environment: Bandaids on Severed Limbs

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Giakoumakis, Emmanuel (2023) Reconstituting the Representational Identities of Nature in the Urban Environment: Bandaids on Severed Limbs. Research Master thesis, Victoria University.


The inclusion of nature in human space can infer a sense of harmony, which may impact on the way that we recognise our relationship with the planet and influence our individual and collective actions towards the climate crisis. This study is a visual ethnography which explores the representational identities of nature in the urban environment through the analysis of photos, seeking to explain their link to the climate catastrophe. The photos were taken over the course of a morning, on a tour of a shopping centre guided by a marketing representative. They identify and position the various transformations of nature’s identity, and its agencies, which I extrapolate by engaging with theory from the broad and interdisciplinary field of nature-social research. To accomplish this, the study draws on the methodology of post-qualitative inquiry, incorporating concepts such as the spectacle, Actor-Network Theory, and ‘other-kin’ to focus on the ontological subject of representational identities dependant on space, place, political ecologies, and temporality. The study identifies the creation of actor networks which are distributed over three realms, referred to as: the terrestrial realm, the spectacular realm, and the networked society. The deference of meaning created by the redistribution of images without context, or where context is reliant on the audience to extrapolate, causes a breakdown in relations and allows for the stripping of an evolutionary identity in favour of a corporate identity imposed by consumer culture. The implication of this replication of function, and obscuring of identity across systems, is that natural processes of the terrestrial realm are being stripped of their impact and meaning through interactions which break their connection to place—an abstract interaction which has not been defined in any sociological paradigms and may require further investigation and exploration.

Additional Information

Master of Research

Item type Thesis (Research Master thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords visual ethnography; nature; urban environment; Actor-Network Theory; shopping centre; consumerism; liveable cities
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