Browsing by Author "Sanderson, Dayni"
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- ItemTeaching environmentality: An ethnographic study of an aquarium’s environmental lessons in Cape Town, South Africa(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2022-03) Sanderson, Dayni; Van Wyk, Ilana; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dept. of Sociology and Social Anthropology.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In this thesis, I focus an ethnographic lens on the non-profit arm of one of Cape Town’s most iconic institutions, the Two Oceans Aquarium (TOA). Like a number of other aquariums and zoos across the world, the TOA frames itself primarily as a conservation and education organisation. Based on six months of fieldwork at the Aquarium’s Education Foundation and inspired by critical approaches in anthropology, this thesis interrogates the narrative and programmatic content of this framing and its imprint on a wider “witnessing public” (Chua, 2018:a). In particular, I analyse the TOA’s online mediascape and explore the various environmental classes that the Foundation offered to school children; its on-site, week-long holiday Smart Living programme and its hour-long “outreach” classes in disadvantaged areas of the City. I also analyse the motivation letters of children who applied for the TOA’s free holiday courses. My research shows that the TOA was haunted by the class and racial legacies of local (and international) conservation. I argue that in its embrace of mainstream environmentalism, the TOA unintentionally depoliticised the environmental crisis to offer solutions that trumpeted individualised new forms of consumption that either excluded poor people or framed them as environmental villains. This middle-class, prescriptive environmentalism thus reproduced messages that mapped environmental destruction onto race and class. Through the working of its hidden curriculum, the TOA’s lessons to school children repeated this message and shaped the ways in which a new generation related to the environment and “nature”; a relationship in which the privileged retained a proprietary interest in conservation, while disadvantaged children internalised their supposed culpability in environmental collapse. As I show in this thesis, the TOA was not alone in doing this work; as the children’s letters to the TOA attested, most of them had been exposed to similar messages from a much wider world of hegemonic middle-class environmentalism.