Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
How does anthoethnography contribute to the development of understandings of aesthetic experiences of wild plants and wildflower tourism? As exemplified by the quintessentially aesthetic industry of wildflower tourism, the culture of flora represents diverse engagements between people and plants. Such complex engagements offer further avenues for research. The critical methodology of anthoethnography has been one such approach to circumscribing the values, practices and rhetoric of wildflower tourism. Interviews have revealed perceptual phenomena such as the orchid and everlasting effects as two counterpoised examples of the differences between visual aesthetic values occurring in the region. For appreciators such as Tinker, botanical science substantiates visual experience by showing the functional role of plants within habitats. However, the taxonomic eye is not the only judge of the value and significance of flowering plants. As underscored by Nannup, Aboriginal perspectives offer complex cultural modes of engagement and rich directions for wildflower tourism based in bodily experience. An anthoethnographic approach produces accounts of the spectrum of human perceptions of wildflowers in order to proffer potential directions for wildflower tourism of the future. Through a participatory aesthetics of flora in contemporary Australian landscapes, appreciative interactions with plants will occur not only through visual values, but also through the smell, taste, sound, or feel of plants and how one moves through communities of flora. Scientific knowledge can amplify visual and embodied modes. However, as an anthoethnographic lens has shown, wildflower tourism in the Southwest is weighted towards visual experience. Indeed, the history and contemporary practices of wildflower tourism encode ocular values that can posit a separation between post‐colonial cultures and native flora. A promising direction is towards participatory relationships beyond the aestheticisation of the surface qualities of flora and beyond the ‘conquest of the world as picture’ (Heidegger 221). In an era of rapid species loss, wildflower tourism will increasingly embrace concepts of conservation, Aboriginal knowledges and the recognition of spiritual heritages, and the appreciation of plants beyond their visual impact. The expression of human sensory capacities for plants joined to an ethos of botanical conservation, drawing from scientific thought, can better ensure the longevity of flowers through the evolution of the culture of flora in the region.