I'm an environmental anthropologist researching nature conservation, landscape, and human-bird relations. I conducted the AHRC-funded Listening to Birds project with Tim Ingold, which considered the ways that people relate to birds through sound. I was co-editor of the book Landscapes beyond Land: Routes, aesthetics, narratives (2012: Berghahn) and have published articles on conservation conflicts in Scotland, the anxieties of listening to birds in the Anthropocene, on more-than-human seasonalities and on place, atmosphere and bird sounds. I take a 'more than human' approach to all research and my current interests are in bird migration, wetlands, and how people understand relations with other creatures within contexts of ecological change.
I conducted my doctoral research on the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides of western Scotland. Here I investigated the relationship between nature conservation organisations and farmers, focussing on the development of the relationship since the 1970s. Within my thesis I consider how various symbols that represent this relationship are employed within discourse as part of the situating practices of individuals and organisations. I also examine regularities within the discourse of farming and conservation in Islay that point towards shared models of connection.
More recently I conducted research into anthropological approaches to bird sounds, in conjunction with Tim Ingold. This AHRC-funded project examined how people perceive bird sounds, how they identify sounds as being made by particular kinds of birds and how these sounds then become incorporated into people's lives. Research was mostly conducted in northeast Scotland but also explored human responses to bird sounds in a variety of other situations.
I am currently accepting PhDs in Anthropology.
Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.
2018. 'Senses of being: The atmospheres of listening to birds in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.' in Schroer, S. & Schmitt, S. (eds) Exploring atmospheres ethnographically. Abingdon: Routledge.
2017. 'Loudly sing cuckoo': More-than-human seasonalities in Britain. The Sociological Review Monographs, Vol. 65(1) 171–187.
2015. 'Listening to Birds in the Anthropocene: The Anxious Semiotics of Sound in a Human-Dominated World' Environmental Humanities 6: 53-71. http://environmentalhumanities.org/archives/vol6/
2015. 'Anthropological approaches to conservation conflicts' in S. Redpath, R. Gutierrez, K. Wood & J. Young (eds) Conflicts in conservation: navigating towards solutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
2013. 'Human-animal relations in the North East of Scotland' Public Art Scotland.
2013. 'Living doubts: the ontology of hearing, seeing and naming birds' in A. Carlyle & C. Lane (eds) On listening. Sheffield: RGAP.
2012. Redpath, S., Young, J., Evely, A., Adams, W., Sutherland, W., Whitehouse, A., Amar, A., Lambert, R., Linnell, J., Watt, A. & Gutiérrez, R. “Understanding and managing conservation conflicts”. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
2012 "How the land should be: narrating progress on farms in Islay, Scotland" in A. Arnason, N.Ellison, J.Vergunst & A.Whitehouse (eds.) Landscapes beyond land: routes, aesthetics, narratives. Oxford: Berghahn.
2012 Vergunst, J., Whitehouse, A., Ellison, N. & Arnason, A. “Introduction” in A. Arnason, N.Ellison, J.Vergunst & A.Whitehouse (eds.) Landscapes beyond land: routes, aesthetics, narratives. Oxford: Berghahn.
2012 Landscapes beyond land: routes, aesthetics, narratives (edited with A. Arnason, N. Ellison & J. Vergunst). Oxford: Berghahn.
2010 "The balance of nature: entangled science and ethics in debates about raptors in Scotland", in Animals and science M. Bolton & C. Degnen (eds) Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press.
2010 "Something borrowed, something new? Practices and politics of imitation: an introduction" ETNOFOOR 22:1 7-10 (with Petra Tjitske Kalshoven)
2009 "'A disgrace to a farmer': conservation and agriculture on a nature reserve in Islay, Scotland' Conservation and Society 7:3 165-175
2009 "Where the wild things are now: domestication reconsidered" Social Anthropology 17: 3 353-355.
2008 "Skilled visions: between apprenticeship and standards" Social Anthropology 16: 1 117-118.
2006 "Sound and anthropology" conference review (with Katy Fox). Anthropology Today Vol. 22 No. 6 25-26.
"One with the birds? Listening through recording and imitation" Departmental Seminar, Newcastle University, March 2010.
"On knowing and learning bird sounds" Listening to Birds symposium, Aberdeen, June 2009.
"The language of sound: exploring interaction between people and birds" ASA conference 2009, Bristol, April 2009. Minding Animals conference, Newcastle, Australia, July 2009.
"The rare and the everyday in nature conservation" ACES symposium, Aberdeen, February 2009. ECCB conference, Prague, Czech Republic, September 2009.
"Bird sounds and senses of being" ASA conference 2008, Auckland, New Zealand December 2008. Departmental Seminar, University of Aberdeen February 2009.
"'Like chips without salt and vinegar': bird sounds and the rhythms of life" Theoretical Archaeology Group conference, New York, May 2008. Departmental seminar at Queen's University Belfast, April 2008.
"An anthropologist listens to birds" Neal's Yard, Cambridge, November 2007. Anthropology of Britain workshop, Aberdeen January 2008.
"Becoming continuity: how conservation stopped being a change in Islay, Scotland" Anthropology of Britain workshop, Newcastle January 2007.
"Towards an anthropology of bird sounds", at the conference "Sound and Anthropology", University of St Andrews, June 2006.
"The balance of nature: entangled science and ethics in debates about raptors in Scotland" at the conference "Animals and Science" University of Manchester, June 2005.
"Diversity and diversification: farmers' negotiation of change in Islay, Scotland" at the XXI congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology, Keszthely, Hungary August 2005.
"The people who make the difference: How farmers in Islay negotiate and conceptualise change and their relationship with the outside world" ASA Conference, 2004, Durham.
"Conservation, counting and the meaning and morality of rarity in Islay" ASA Conference, 2003, Manchester.
Course co-ordinator for AT4538 More Than Human and for AT2010 Key Debates in Anthropology. I also run the Research Project Part 2 course, which is the second part of the single honours dissertation, and am coordinator for the 6th Century course 'Humans and Other Animals' SX1501.
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Exploring Taskscapes: an introductionSocial Anthropology, vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 588-597Contributions to Journals: Articles
Senses of being: The atmospheres of listening to birds in Britain, Australia and New ZealandExploring Atmospheres Ethnographically. Schroer, S., Schmitt, S. (eds.). Routledge, pp. 61-75, 15 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Loudly sing cuckoo: More-than-human seasonalities in BritainThe Sociological Review Monographs, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 171– 187Contributions to Journals: Articles
Listening to Birds in the Anthropocene: The Anxious Semiotics of Sound in a Human-Dominated WorldEnvironmental Humanities, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 53-71Contributions to Journals: Articles
Anthropological approaches to conservation conflictsConflicts in Conservation. Redpath, S. M., Gutierrez, R. J., Wood, K. A., Young, J. C. (eds.). Cambridge University Press, pp. 94-107, 14 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Understanding and managing conservation conflictsTrends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 100-109Contributions to Journals: Articles
Introduction: Landscapes beyond landLandscapes Beyond Land. Routes, Aesthetics, Narratives.. Arnason, A., Ellison, N., Vergunst, J., Whitehouse, A. (eds.). Berghahn Books, pp. 1-14, 14 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Landscapes Beyond Land: Routes, Aesthetics, NarrativesBerghahn Books, Oxford. 216 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
One with the birds?: Listening through recording and imitationContributions to Conferences: Papers
Senses of place: listening to birds and place-making in Britain, Australia and New ZealandContributions to Conferences: Papers