Title page for ETD etd-06082011-141500

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Watts, Paul Ronald
URN etd-06082011-141500
Title Landscape, Mobilities, and Performance: An Autoethnographic and Visual Engagement with Public Protests in Washington, DC
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
DeLyser, Dydia Committee Chair
Bowman, Michael Committee Member
Colten, Craig Committee Member
Mathewson, Kent Committee Member
Richardson, Miles Committee Member
Denny, R. Kenton Dean's Representative
  • Landscape
  • Mobilities
  • Performance
  • Practice
  • Public Protests
Date of Defense 2011-05-19
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation examines how geography’s traditional approach to studying cultural landscapes, which has been largely reliant upon vision, should also include the embodied practices: the customary and habitual actions that inform human engagement. Using public protests in Washington, DC as an extended case study, I reveal an underlying tension between protest participants’ embodied practices and material objects in the built environment. I accomplish this by drawing from over one year’s fieldwork in Washington, where I used qualitative approaches, including—but not limited to—participant observation and autoethnography, to engage in public protests as an embodied participant. To support my empirical data, I rely upon theoretical work by geographers and other scholars on mobilities and performativity to argue that protest participants (re)create a practiced landscape, one based on ephemeral and recurring events, and where participants in these events play with and against inscribed notions of Washington’s monumental landscape. I show that pubic protests are a normal practice in Washington, and as such are significant to its landscape. In the end, I advocate for geographers to embrace both vision and practice as a means of apprehending cultural landscapes.
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