Modes of Engagement with a National Landscape: Cultural production of Exmoor National Park
Wilkinson, Timothy John
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
No reproduction without author's written permission.
Reason for embargo
18 month embargo to allow to time for papers to be published from material from in the thesis.
This thesis is a study of the cultural production of Exmoor National Park.. It proceeds through analysis of both historical representations of the space called ‘National Park’ and contemporary social processes in which National Park users engage with the landscape. This project draws on a cross-disciplinary range of literature, from local histories of Exmoor, to tourism studies, critical human geography and cultural theory. Empirical material includes primary texts, transcripts from discussion groups and ethnographic experiences. The research unpacks the reproduction of the space called ‘Exmoor National Park’. It traces the composition of this space in historical and contemporary texts, charting the authorised visions of National Parks in metanarratives and official discourses. Through close reading and textual analysis, assumptions and prevailing wisdoms about the territory ‘Exmoor National Park’ are unsettled. The way that National Parks were represented as a space, or territory, is explored in three ways. First, by considering the boundary which defined the space ‘National Park’, second, by exploring the conceptualisation of National Park land and landscape, and third, by examining governance of engagements between National Park users and the terrain. Analysis highlights multiplicity and political striation in the idea of a territory called ‘National Park’. The thesis develops by exploring contemporary National Park users’ narratives of their engagement with Exmoor. . Findings from discussion groups and ethnographic experiences are used to advance an understanding of the ways users organise their enjoyment of Exmoor. These comprise three modes of engagement with the national landscape: processes of connecting, encountering conflict and working. As an ESRC CASE commissioned project, the findings of this research have been applied through the production of a toolkit called From Special Qualities to Special Experiences (ENPA, 2015), in collaboration with Exmoor National Park Authority. This title articulates the shift from a concern with features of the National Park as a territory, towards the social processes in which Exmoor is experienced.
This thesis is based on research conducted during a CASE studentship funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under its Capacity Building Clusters Award (RES-187-24-0002) in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority. Funding was awarded by the Centre for Sports, Leisure and Tourism Research, University of Exeter
PhD in Geography