PhD Seminar - Response-ability in the wild: an exploration of human-nonhuman coexistence and moral relationships

"A set of wolves and people in a mountain valley in Colorado are the uncommon friends that inspired this thesis. The relationships I made there prompted the exploration documented in this seminar: a doctoral journey through which I questioned the meaning of 'conservation', of 'coexistence', and of 'wildness', seeking a story of relationship through which to live and die well in the multispecies entanglements that are life on earth.

My thesis is focused on creating understandings of interspecies relating through exploring how humans can and do categorise, encounter, respond, relate, and coexist with nonhumans. This PhD journey has been an iterative and interactive process, involving an interrogation of the wider literature, of the data gathered at the Mission: Wolf sanctuary in Colorado through my fieldwork, and of dingo management and coexistence in Australia as an alternative context through which to think relationships.

This seminar will present the story of that journey as a step towards operationalizing moral and ethical ideas of response-ability (as in 'the ability to respond') and coexistence. Through sorting out how we think about and tell the story of our relationship to nonhumans, I contemplate what that means for how we live together."


​About the speaker

Pele is a PhD scholar at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU. She completed her undergraduate studies at the ANU with a BA(Hons) in Human Ecology and Applied Linguistics. Her Honours project explored farmer decision-making around change. After graduating, Pele ran away to live with wolves, learnt how to not scare them, and saw what could happen when you asked people to genuinely consider the wolves' perspective. These encounters spurred her on to undertake this thesis topic, and weave that understanding into a philosophical and academic story.