Caring-with People and Nature: Exploring social-ecologically just transformations through a lens of feminist and democratic caring

  • Gloria Giambartolomei

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This research originates from a transdisciplinary collaboration between members of Welsh Government (WG) and Coventry University in which the need was identified to investigate collaborative approaches to governing the sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR) in Wales, UK. Despite their widespread take-up, feminist and radical (human)
    geography scholars have criticised collaborative forms of SMNR governance for their entanglement with neoliberal assumptions, including the commodification of nature and perpetuation of structurally unequal power relations. In this study, care theory is drawn upon as a means of tackling such structural inequalities and enabling a radical paradigm shift towards sustainability. SMNR governance is framed as requiring a deep commitment to caring-with at both an individual and institutional level. Caring-with is understood in this study as involving a fair and
    democratic definition and allocation of caring responsibilities towards others (human and more-than-human), based on principles of mutual interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity.
    Specifically, this study investigates the material and political dimensions that affect the capacity (i.e., time, resources, skills, knowledge) to care-with (in this instance, with regards to
    collaborative forms of SMNR). The research is informed by a qualitative mixed-methods approach, combining transdisciplinary, ethnographic, participatory and experimental methods, adopted over a period of three years (2017-2020) in Wales. Through a prolonged and diversified engagement
    with actors from public and third sectors, as well as practitioners and community groups, the findings of this research suggest that collaborative practices of SMNR are emergent and relational,
    embedded within embryonic systems of cultural transformation, at the core of which lie shared and open-ended meaning-making processes. Such processes underpin caring-with approaches: by
    deeply listening to each other’s needs and aspirations, embracing the interdependent nature of our lives on Earth, practitioners, community members, policymakers and professionals (from
    multiple different sectors) come together into “communities of practice”. These act as enabling spaces – ‘spaces of possibility’ - where collaboration as caring-with is given priority as both iterative process and emergent practice. Ultimately, by creating time and space to nurture and maintain long-term relationships of trust, communities of practice can function as laboratories to
    envision and collectively realise a “prefigurative politics of caring-with”, to foster socially and ecologically just transformations
    Date of Award2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorJana Fried (Supervisor) & Alex Franklin (Supervisor)

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