Feathered Roots and Migratory Routes: Immigrants and Birds in the Anthropocene

in Nature and Culture
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  • 1 Universidad de Concepcion jpizarrop@udec.cl
  • 2 University of Waterloo blarson@uwaterloo.ca
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Abstract

Human mobility necessitates that people adapt not only to a new society but also to a new natural environment and biodiversity. We use birds as biodiversity proxies to explore the place experiences of 26 Latin Americans adapting to Canada and the United States. Using interviews with open-ended questions, we prompted participants to identify birds that were linked to remarkable experiences in both places of origin and immigration, which we coded respectively as “roots” and “routes.” Participants reported foundational keystone species linked to their cultural heritage and conspicuous key species they associated with self-realization in the new place. Linking species, involving connections between roots and routes, triggered a process of place recalibration in association with key and keystone birds that worked as points of reference. We suggest that biodiversity offers critical social functions that need to be addressed by social integration programs promoting conviviality between humans and nature in the Anthropocene.

Contributor Notes

J. Cristobal Pizarro is an interdisciplinary ornithologist with an undergraduate degree in veterinarian sciences (Universidad de Concepcion, Chile), a master’s degree in conservation and natural resources (Universidad de Magallanes, Chile), and a PhD in social and environmental sustainability (University of Waterloo, ON, Canada). He is Professor of Tourism and Sustainability in the Forest Science Faculty at the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile. His research interests focus on human-wildlife (ethic) relationships as narratives for environmental interpretation, social cohesion, and multicultural education. Email: jpizarrop@udec.cl.

Brendon M. H. Larson completed a bachelor’s degree in biology (University of Guelph), a master’s in botany (University of Toronto), and an interdisciplinary PhD in science and society (University of California–Santa Barbara), and he is now Professor and Associate Dean in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, University of Waterloo, ON. He has published over 65 refereed journal articles and book chapters, and in 2011 Yale University Press published his first monograph, Metaphors for Environmental Sustainability: Redefining Our Relationship with Nature. His current research focuses on stakeholder perceptions of invasive species and the changing nature of conservation in the Anthropocene. For more information, please visit www.brendonlarson.com. Email: blarson@uwaterloo.ca.

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