This week another paper is out in Journal of Rural Studies from my lab, this time a paper led by former postdoc Wes Tourangeau based on my 2016 sabbatical field work in the Falklands. We used the re-emergent Leverage Points framework, originally developed by Donella Meadows, to analyze the management strategies used by Falkland wool producers in the face of a drying climate. Up until the 1980s the landscape was divided into massive properties, run largely ranch-style by locals for overseas owners. With post-war land reforms, properties were broken into largely family-sized units, and here the practices began to diverge. We’ve mapped those various strategies along the leverage points framework. All the strategies have some leverage, but the Holistic Management practitioners are working much ‘deeper’ with their systems thinking and goal setting. The paper uses many quotes to illustrate how these play out in practice and affect the day-to-day and longer term.
Right before I headed to Montreal, postdoc Wes Tourangeau represented the team at Animals and Us: Research, Policy, and Practice, a meeting at the University of Windsor. He presented Watching, wearing, eating: The ethics of wildlife tourism, wool, and mutton based on our Falklands case study work. Thanks, Wes.
Today is the 36th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War, which I think of as “my first war” because it was the first to penetrate my childhood consciousness, otherwise occupied with all things me. It feels therefore fitting that today my short article reflecting on my month in the Falklands, called The New Battle for the Falklands, appeared online at Canadian Notes and Queries. It also appeared in the Winter issue 101 of the print version (p. 15-18). Emotions lingered from my time in the Falklands that were making it difficult to write up the work for a scholarly audience, so I challenged myself to write about it in a venue and with language more accessible to the public. Now CNQ is a literary journal– hardly plebian–but it is also quite funny and well-designed thanks to graphics by Seth. It also has a strong cultural storytelling angle and an ‘abroad’ column available to those who want to write about travel so it was a good fit.
Monday was an exciting day in my ‘lab’. Postdoctoral fellow Wesley Tourangeau arrived from Ontario to start research on the Reconciling HM project. Wesley brings a background in using discourse analysis to understand controversy and risk in agri-food issues, such as GMOs and animal welfare. He will starting out by engaging with my Falkland Islands case study data, as well as Sarbpreet‘s work on producer magazines. Welcome, Wes!
The same day I finally met in person Bernard Soubry, Mount Allison alum and Rhodes Scholar, who has just finished his Masters at Oxford. I helped out at the latter stages of his write-up, which has thus far produced two working papers on adapting Maritime farming to climate change, published by the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford. One paper maps farmer observations against climate projections, and the other explores adaptation options for small-scale farmers. He will be rolling his research into a DPhil with me as a co-supervisor. Welcome, Bernard!
I am now back from my 3+ week immersion into the farming culture of the Falkland Islands, with 700 photos, 30 hours of interviews, 20 pages of observational notes, and a strong sense of my inadequacies as a specialist within a land of self-reliant generalists. Despite coming at the busiest time in the farming calendar – shearing and lamb marking – farmers were incredibly generous in their willingness to talk, and sometimes tour and host as well. My research assistant, Marilou Delignieres, went far beyond her role as recruiter, guide and driver, happily engaging in farm work and babysitting to help me get time with farmers. Her parents, Hugues and Marie-Paul, helped us with logistics, but also provided additional opportunities during my visit. I relished my discussions with members of a contract shearing gang then working at their farm Dunbar, and got to experience a cruise ship visit, one of the ways that many farmers here diversify their incomes and benefit from hosting penguin colonies and other wildlife. I travelled by 4×4, workboat (ferry) and Islander aircraft. I marveled at all scales: skies to ground cover. These memories will sustain me through the difficult transcription phase which follows such research, and support my subsequent analysis. Thanks to the OECD Co-operative Research Programme and Dalhousie’s Supplemental Sabbatical Fund for the fellowship funding to undertake this travel, and SSHRC for its support of Marilou.