This post is a bit of an autoethnographic response to reading about Wild Pedagogies and what it means to be | Wild | Self-willed | Re-wilded | and how that can both reinforce and be a counter to the highly colonial and damaging idea of Wilderness.
Wilderness has been soundly denounced as a destructive colonial force, where people who have lived with and apart of ecosystems were systematically removed from those places in the name of conservation. This remains a form of cultural genocide – where the stories and practices that are a part of so-called Wilderness are exterminated in order to preserve an idea that only certain people deserve access to such places. In Australia everybody pays the cost of this because the absence of Caring for Country by Traditional Owners has increased the risk of catastrophic bushfires and poor river health across the continent.
So, when it comes to a question of Re-wildling, people and cultures need to be a part of that. As Marietta Radomska writes:
Biological conservation cannot be equated with the return to “untouched” nature, as nature has always been interacting with humans in the first place.Radomska (2017) The Anthropocene, practices of storytelling, and multispecies justice
As nature has always been interacting with humans, so too has it been interacting with stories. People tell stories to find love, joy and connection. They tell stories to explore ideas and see things from a different point of view. Wild pedagogies that focus on the ideas of adventure, risk-taking and bodily limits are doing both the human and the more-than-human enormous harm by suggesting that that is what it means to be wild.
As Radomska suggests, the role of people and cultures are important in biological conservation. I think this idea also involves an expansion of what it means to be wild in conservation and biology circles. In this regard, I speak from the personal experience of being a disabled woman and environmental scientist – something that many people consider to be an oxymoron. In fact, I personally only started to feel wild when I stopped being an environmental scientist after enduring years of ableism.
This is all to say that Rewilding people and places will necessarily look different for everyone. It cannot and ought not resemble ideas of wild from the past, because those ideas are rooted in white supremacy, misogyny and eugenics. In order to create wild places, and tell wild stories we need to remember the root of the meaning of wild:
Wild | Self-willed