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Abstract deadline
30 June 2021

Manuscript deadline
30 November 2021

Cover image - Journal of Ecotourism

Journal of Ecotourism

Special Issue Editor(s)

Bastian Thomsen, University of Oxford
[email protected]

Kellen Copeland, Oregon State University
[email protected]

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Posthumanism & Ecotourism

The use of nonhuman animals as entertainment is fundamental to tourism, as some studies estimate that 20-40% of all international tourism involves animals at wildlife tourist attractions (WTAs) (Moorehouse et al., 2017). The tourism industry facilitates human-nonhuman animal interaction like few others, yet animal ethics has only recently accelerated in tourism theory and practice (Fennell, 2011; Cohen, 2019; Fennell & Sheppard, 2021). Winter (2020) reviewed the contemporary state of wildlife tourism to declare that “animals pay a heavy price for entering the public and providing the industry with financial benefit: animals are hunted and captured in the wild, permanently confined, used as transport, eaten, cruelly trained, abused and intentionally killed” (p. 2). Fennell and Yazdanpanah (2020) contend that “we are now, more than ever, cognizant of our ethical responsibility as tourists and service providers to protect the interests of nature and other cultures” (p. 2.). In spite of this knowledge, the horrific treatment of nonhumans persists, as more than 60% of the world’s wildlife has perished in the past 50 years (Grooten & Almond, 2018), and millions of animals are used for profit and pleasure in a variety of instrumental ways (Fennell, 2013).

Wildlife ecotourism (WE) has emerged to foreground nonhumans’ (flora and fauna) rights, agency, and welfare in tourist settings by focusing on four key criteria: 1.) nature-based tourism, 2.) (environmental) learning and education, 3.) sustainable development, and 4.) ethics. Wildlife ecotourism is distinguished from wildlife tourism for only embracing non-consumptive wildlife tourism episodes such as birdwatching, compared to wildlife tourism’s inclusion of consumptive practices such as hunting or fishing that can result in an animal’s torture, abuse, and death (Thomsen et al. 2021). Previous WE models suggest that tourism operators must balance visitor satisfaction, animal welfare, profitability, and conservation (Reynolds & Braithwaite, 2001). In practice, this can lead to the reinforcement of anthropocentric interests, especially when the pursuit of profits results in animal suffering and commodification that neglects their rights, agency, and welfare (Belicia & Islam, 2018; Gibson, 2019).

Considering the urgency of the ecological crisis (Steffen et al., 2011), human dominance over nonhumans at tourism attractions (Burns, 2017), and the popularity of WTAs (Winter, 2020), it is critical that tourism scholars and practitioners reconsider our treatment of ‘other’ species (Copeland, 2021). How can wildlife ecotourism practitioners reflexively evaluate their own practices and treatment of animals under their care? How can tourism scholars foreground nonhuman animal welfare, rights, and agency when they exercise their power to speak for and about nonhumans?

Recent research has begun to address these questions and proffer conceptual frameworks to assess the current milieu and quotidian life of animals at WTAs. For example, Fennell and Sheppard (2021) developed a ‘scales of justice’ framework to evaluate the ethical treatment of animals in WTAs from normative and virtue ethics perspectives. Their framework moves from ‘No Justice’ through ‘Shallow Justice’ and ‘Intermediate Justice’ to ‘Deep Justice’ depending on different types of practice and the moral consideration as part of these practices.

Posthumanism, as a “postmodern philosophical line of inquiry that attempts to subvert human-exceptionalism and considers the ethics of speaking for and about nonhuman animals, without their consent” (Thomsen et al., 2021, p.3), complements this approach to WE by shedding “binary humanist arguments and consider wildlife, rights, agency, and welfare at the individual level” (Thomsen, 2021, p.9-21). Even though posthumanism has largely been absent from tourism studies Cohen (2019), it may help to overcome the entrenched anthropocentricity of humans’ treatment of nonhuman animals in tourism settings in theory and practice.

In this call for papers, we respond to Cohen’s call for posthumanist approaches to nonhuman ecotourism. We seek original posthumanist theoretical, methodological, conceptual, and empirical manuscripts that consider how we may equitably foreground nonhumans’ (flora and fauna) rights, welfare, and agency in (eco)tourism.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of potential topics for consideration in the special issue, and authors are encouraged to contact the special issue editors with any questions regarding their manuscript:

  • Wildlife welfare, rights, and agency at WTAs
  • The intersectionality of human-wildlife conflict and coexistence with ecotourism
  • Habitat destruction and its effects on flora and fauna in tourism
  • Animal suffering in WTAs
  • Multispecies livelihoods and ecotourism
  • Nonhuman stakeholder engagement strategies for ecotourism-related policy
  • Protected areas and land management related to ecotourism
  • The effects of climate change on nonhumans in ecotourism
  • The role of ecotourism in ecosystem and or wildlife governance
  • The effects of posthumanism on environmental education and or attitudes
  • Equitable representation of human-nonhuman interests in community development and resiliency related to ecotourism
  • Traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous perspectives toward nonhumans’ interests in ecotourism

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Submission Instructions

We invite interested authors to submit an abstract of about 250-400 words excluding references to the co-editors, Bastian Thomsen ([email protected]) and Kellen Copeland ([email protected]). Contributors must follow the journal’s "Instructions for Authors". Selected authors will be invited to submit full a manuscript on one or more of the above topics that summarize a research project or provide a synthesis of some aspect of posthumanism and ecotourism. All full paper submissions will be subject to the normal peer-review process of the Journal of Ecotourism.

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