Birds and people in towns and cities : an exploration of human-bird relations in urban areas

Pedley, Daniel James

March 2010

Thesis or dissertation

© 2010 Daniel James Pedley. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Urban nature conservation and sustainability discourses regularly state a desire to bring more ‘nature’ and wildlife into towns and cities - for the perceived good of both people and wildlife. Yet many wildlife species that already live in urban areas are often seen as undesirable by people, and are caught up in the parallel discourses and practices of pest control. This partial disparity between the types of wildlife successfully inhabiting urban areas and the types that, put simplistically, different people want or don’t want in urban areas is further complicated by the heterogeneity of humans, nonhumans, ideas, practices and space-times that co-constitute the character of, and the uneven geographies of, different human-wildlife relations in urban areas. This heterogeneity, and these uneven relations, creates practical and ethical issues, not only for those directly involved in policy and management, but also for the constitution and potential implementation of a diverse body of social science theory that is concerned with developing an expanded political collective and fostering better relations between humans and nonhumans.

In light of these issues, this thesis has examined and compared the specific constitution of particular, different, and uneven human-wildlife relations in urban areas in the cases of different bird species, with a particular focus on the built environment. It has subsequently considered the problems and opportunities that arise in seeking better relations. Using an approach derived from relational thinking, the contingent knowledges/ideas, practices, and human and nonhuman agencies involved in these relations have been assessed, revealing how diverse human-bird relations, and certain urban-space times, are produced. In spite of the problems that the heterogeneity and complexity of these relations presents for living with wildlife in urban areas, this thesis concludes that creatively experimenting with the form and practice of diverse urban landscapes offers opportunities for better relations.

Department of Geography, The University of Hull
Eden, Sally; Holloway, Lewis
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