The Landscapes of Today and Tomorrow - A phenomenological exploration of experience and anticipation in the context of climate change
The physical ramifications of climate change on coastal settlements will challenge people’s relationships with the places that are important to them. Climate impacts are commonly described in terms of tangible changes that are likely to occur to the environment over the 21st century. Less attention has been given to the human experience of climate change as an unfolding interplay between their lived experience and their anticipation of a changing environment. Drawing from phenomenological theories and Tim Ingold’s concept of landscape temporality, this study examines how people experientially engage with environmentally vulnerable places, both relationally and temporally, in light of climate change predictions. Theoretical foundations of the research position relationality as the interactional engagement that occurs between people and the landscape, while temporality refers to the experiential measure of this engagement over time.The fieldwork component of the research was undertaken in the city of Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand. Two coastal sites susceptible to sea level rise were used as case studies: the rural village of Waitati, and the urban environment of greater South Dunedin. In each site, mobile interviews were conducted with selected participants, which involved the participants giving a personally selected tour of the places that were important to them, and discussing these with the researcher. The interview questions sought to elicit how participants experienced the case study sites temporally and relationally. Participants were also asked how they anticipated the changes to the case study sites in the future. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis, the interview data was analysed and organised to create typologies for both the temporal and relational aspects of the landscape experience. These typologies were then used to assess the degree of agreement between the participants’ experience of the present landscape and their anticipation of the future. The results revealed a variety of ways in which the participants experienced the case study sites. Similarities between participants’ experiences were also observed, and served to define categories of temporal and relational experience. With most participants, there was a relational and temporal consistency between their experience of the case study sites today and the way they anticipated the future of these places. Their imagined future landscapes were a negotiation between their embodied experiences and their understandings of scientific predictions of climate impacts. These findings support the phenomenological premise that people’s experiential relationship with the landscape is distinct from, but not opposed to, objective and quantitative measurements. The results suggest that a closer integration of people’s experience of landscape with objective predictions made by science would better prepare them for future climate change induced challenges.
Advisor: Stephenson, Janet; Orchiston, Caroline; Ruru, Jacinta
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Landscape; New Zealand; Dunedin; Climate change; Perception; Phenomenology; Sea level rise; Temporality; Relationality; Place; Landscape values; Place values
Research Type: Thesis