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USFS Trail places and Nature-Based Recreation: More-than-human embodied and visceral co-productions of value, place, and relations.
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This research examines how public land users practice and produce their relationships with nature(s) via embodied experiences within USFS trails and how these micro-scale experiences reflect, mediate, and contradict broader macro narratives about nature-society relations and capitalocentric value. At a time when public lands are made precarious by policies of privatization and when the global impacts of the Anthropocene on the environment are being felt in intimate and embodied ways, the overarching research question guiding this dissertation is: How are nature-based recreators experiencing and practicing more-than-human (MtH) inter-relations/co-productions in embodied ways within USFS trails in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest? This central question is explored in three article-length chapters: 1) Visceral Value: nature-based recreation and embodied more-than-capitalist practices with/in USFS trails; 2) Sensing place: nature-based recreation and more-than-human haptic relations within USFS Trails; and 3) Participant auto-ethnographic trail journals: representing more-than-humans through embodied experiences of nature-based recreator. Throughout, weak theory is employed as reparative work to combat the strong theory approach of traditional “western”, “modern”, “progressive” theorizing which attempt to streamline all life and livelihoods as homogenous for ease of capitalist market translations. Qualitative methods employed are questionnaire, interview, journaling, photo-elicitation, and auto-ethnography. Unique to this research is participant completed autoethnographic journals which emphasize researcher absence during data collection. This research progresses existing knowledge and method regarding nature-based recreator practice in US public lands and stresses that it is via participant experiences and data that researchers are able to best understand and represent place-based constitutions of human and more-than-human relations. This research contributes to the site-specific innovations in theory and practice that are literally grounded in the humans, more-than-humans, and places within which researchers engage.