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Learning with wild rabbits: Troubling the divides of settler colonialism

Sat, September 1, 2:00 to 3:30pm, ICC, E5.9

Abstract

In Australia, the European wild rabbit is listed as a primary 'invasive species' and has been long vilified for causing environmental damage on a continental scale. Since the mid 1950s, the release of targeted viruses has significantly reduced wild rabbit numbers, but there are always local pockets of resurgence. One of these is on the ANU campus, where wild rabbits currently abound. This is also where I am involved in a common worlds multispecies ethnographic research project called 'Walking with Wildlife in Wild Weather Times', along with a colleague and group of preschool children.

In this presentation, I recount a series of the children's pedagogical encounters with wild rabbits during their regular walks in a grassy woodlands area on campus, and down the road at 'The Rabbits' exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Situating these encounters within the messy legacies of settler colonialism - including trashed environments, as well as epistemological divides and dissociative bifurcations - I detail how the children learn with these wild rabbits about their fraught and entangled inheritance. I describe how they grapple with their affinity for these 'invasive' rabbits, rather than distancing themselves from them. In reference to Donna Haraway's (2016) call for us to learn how to inherit by 'staying with the trouble' and Deborah Bird Rose's (2004) call for a 'decolonising ethic' that resists separation and seeks connection, I reflect upon how these children's modes of learning with rabbits might provide a template for recuperative common world pedagogies on settler colonised lands.

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