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Kithness

Abi Andrews


"It is in this greater Kithness that we will find

a solidarity that may yet change everything"


Out of the Woods Collective



This project approaches my personal experience of wildlife rehabilitation in Australia, thinking through whether this kind of care for the more-than-human world can be thought of in terms of 'solidarity' like that in the above quote on what Out of the Woods Collective describe as 'kithness'. I will approach this in the vein of ‘animal writing', making subjects of the particular species of animal that I worked with, their natural history, and the ecology in which they are situated, while keeping present in mind the occupation of the environmental humanities — in it's call to 're-situat[e] the human within the environment, and resituat[e] nonhumans within cultural and ethical domains' (Plumwood) — and extending past descriptive natural history and towards an 'ethnography' that considers these creatures as animate nonhuman persons, developing an ethics, and enlivening a politics, that might act in support and solidarity with them. 





I see this solidarity as a two-way relationship, as the care I gave in Australia was also for me an invitation, or 'homecoming': a return to the living world. My time in Australia was my first feeling of dwelling in a place and its ecology; I learned more about the natural world around me than I ever had before, and became familiar with it through wildlife rehabilitation, working in environmental regeneration, bushwalking, and performing citizen science as part of community activism around anti-logging in the local forest. My feelings of ‘homecoming’ had a shadow side: they contrasted the solastalgia that comes from having lived most of my life in one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. And this knowledge of the after-effect of nature depletion gave my experiences in Australia a kind of anticipatory grief, of what is on the horizon for a country that, due to colonial European land practices, is experiencing the fastest rate of mammalian extinction in the world.

 

I would like to think from my position of being British in Australia, the adjacency and the difference, cognisant of the British appetite for animal writing, which seems strange and even vulgar considering the dire circumstances of biodiversity collapse in the UK. I want to counter the elegiac narrative in British animal writing (while holding awareness of the dire circumstances), responding to the Aboriginal proclivity to 'sing up' Country, and try to strike a balance that speaks from the precipitous circumstance of falling in love with the animal world in the time of its collapse.


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