Practising immanence: (still) becoming an environmental education academic
Clarke, David Andrew George
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This thesis is located between. It is not quite about outdoor environmental education. It is not quite about research methodology. And it is not quite about the author’s learning. These delineated categories exist on a different plane to the thesis, at least, to what the thesis becomes - is becoming. The thesis is thus a haecceity, a certain thisness that is no other. This is not meant to be a grand claim to the contribution or originality of the thesis. It is a statement about the nature of being that ‘I’ have been moved towards in exploring what practice might be in a world that is ‘post’ environment and ‘post’ methodology, and where the separation of theory and practice dissolves. The thesis is constituted of eight haecceities. The starting place is my concern, as (becoming) an outdoor education academic, for finding a pedagogy that might help mitigate environmental degradation. The search for this pedagogy takes up new materialist inclinations and particularly the concept of immanence as described by Deleuze and Guattari (2004). This in turn changes the thesis, and leads it to an exploration of various post-qualitative informed ‘fuzzinesses’ of research methodology; where methodology becomes a pedagogy and the notion of an educational practice that is separate from my life, a life, is troubled. From here, the thesis takes up an increasingly ‘post’ autoethnographic lilt to explore becoming a post environmental education academic. This exploration is carried by writing, and collaborative writing, as forms of inquiry by which various stories are told; stories in which the boundaries between environments, theory, practice, learning, and research become unclear. Throughout the thesis various concepts are created to help explore these tensions. These include the concept of the haecceitical self as the occurring process of, rather than a self being connected or in relation to something; the concept of becoming alien, as an attempt at unhumaning ourselves. i.e. to raise awareness of our belonging to something else, rather than the stable and quiddital (whatness) of the concept of the human; and lastly the concept of environing education. Environing education is difficult to define, but it is at the least the process of learning to live more ethically in response to the contradiction of caring about environmental degradation, whilst at the same time questioning the category of the environmental. The concepts are not monolithic and not necessarily transposable to other situations. Rather they live in their use within the thesis. Whilst the thesis originates from a place of trying to advocate for the environment, through the process of writing the ‘environment’ becomes troubled as a conceptual category, thus troubling the environmental as a category of moral value. Instead, towards the close of the thesis, I explore the competing lines of desire that function to produce the thesis, in the search for an immanent ethics. This ethics of affect is co-constitutive in the writing of the haecceities, to aesthetically explore post human/environment tensions of becoming an academic, and acknowledging the personal struggles that this entails. The contribution of the thesis lies in its exploration of writing an immanent ethics, given the destabilising effects of an immanent ontology on prevailing ethical orientation towards transcendent notions of the ‘environment’. In this way, the writing is a form of post-ecobiography, whereby the contribution of the thesis is also its affective process, for me and (possibly) for the reader.