DECOLONIZING EXPERIENCES: AN ECOPHENOMENOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE LIVED-EXPERIENCE OF APPALACHIAN TRAIL THRU-HIKERS
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Rooted in a critical dialogue that endeavours to theorize experience in contrast to the colonial impetus, this dissertation explores the lived experience of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. As a result of this disposition, the purpose of this dissertation is to expose the dynamics associated with colonized experiences and empirically research the lived experience of thru-hikers from an ecophenomenological perspective. The subsequent approach views the activities of the lived human body as the process through which the world comes into being. Building on Merleau-Pontian phenomenology, ecophenomenology provides the foundation of the experiential self, and thus underlies the representation of the trail environment as a sensuous field of human activity where one is merged with one's socio-ecological surroundings. Explication of empirical materials from 27 participant interviews resulted in a wide range of thru-hiking experiences representing the operative essence of Appalachian Trail thru-hiking. The operative essence was identified across 4 broad dimensions: Perseity, Sojourning, Kinship, and Wild Imbrication. Each dimension comprised a dialectic which emerged from interview excerpts both congruent with and in contrast to wilderness ideology. Further exploration of wilderness ideals resulted in thru-hikers negotiating tensions related to ideological wilderness meanings and their own actual thru-hiking experiences. This negotiation allowed a broader conception of wilderness to be illustrated as a continuum of meaningful experiences. In addition, ecoliteracy emerged as an experientially driven learning process whereby thru-hikers negotiate alternative meanings of wilderness with ideological meanings. The implications for experiential and wilderness related research along with management concerns are discussed.
Cite this work
Clark Zealand (2007). DECOLONIZING EXPERIENCES: AN ECOPHENOMENOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE LIVED-EXPERIENCE OF APPALACHIAN TRAIL THRU-HIKERS. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/3036