Date of Award:

12-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Environment and Society

Advisor/Chair:

Claudia Radel

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Roslynn G. H. Brain McCann

Third Advisor:

Christopher Conte

Abstract

In Australia and the US, women play a vital role in the agricultural sector. However, historically farmwomen’s contributions to agriculture as well as their individual knowledge and social resilience to stressors like climate and climate change have been unrecognized and rendered invisible. Drawing on interdisciplinary scholarship from geography and the humanities, this dissertation explores the farm as place in a changing climate, drawing on women farmers’ experiences, under three distinct themes: identity, place, and photography. The dissertation research includes three distinct parts. First, incorporating non-fiction writing and photography, I explore my agricultural and religious heritage, as well as familial connections to the landscape of rural Idaho. Second, and in conjunction with The Invisible Farmer Project, the largest ever study of Australian women on the land, I analyze women’s photo voices, relying primarily on interview and Facebook data, as well as photographs, to understand women’s emotive connections to the farm as place, farmer identities, and roles in the agricultural sector. Analysis of the Facebook posts revealed how women are establishing a new dialog about what it means to be a woman farmer and how emotion is the foundation for establishing community and connection. Women's posted photo voices allow us to gain new insights into the women farmers' connections to the farm as place as well as their diversified perspectives and identities. Third, using integrative methods, I study women farmers and ranchers in Idaho, United States and Victoria, Australia through an environmental history lens. Examining the history of water in each region, and how the layering of social and environmental factors shapes the farm as place, resilience, and women’s work, I study how the identities of the women farmers and the farm as place cannot be separated. In both the second and third parts, I seek to redefine "farmer" by revealing experiences that have been invisible in the traditional agricultural sector. Rural women farmers have diverse identities and experiences, and their contributions to the agricultural sector are significant. They perceive and adapt to climate impacts and they are resilient. Their experiences with the farm as place is at the center of their identities, resilience, day-to-day work, and shapes their adaptation strategies and emotional well-being.

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