wildhood welcome

Share what you have gathered wildly.

CHCB 467
Missoula, MT 59802

Wildhood is kinship of the wild in all people, places, and things.

Thrownness - Intro - Context - 1


Welcome the wild.

Thrownness - Intro - Context - 1

Mark Douglas


In "Riders on the Storm" Jim Morrison (1971) declares "Into this world we're thrown / Like a dog without a bone". Heidegger (1962) developed the concept of thrownness  in Being and Time, his existential analysis of what it means to be a human being. Humans are thrown into the world. A person is born by their parents and they arrive in the world without much where-with-all for dealing with things. Their existence is contingent on the whole historical flow of their genealogy and the emplacement of that lineage in a culture. People need not be fatalists. The world we come into has a matrix of social conventions and norms, but our paths are not predestined. Humans have volition to stake their claims in the world and choose their paths. People choose where and how they take a stand in the world. Through the flow of time, people become who they are in realizing what they stand for and how they take that stand.

I am thrown into a world of human dimensions of natural resources (HDNR). There is a world of understanding in the professional practice of ecological stewardship. Human geography also has a world unto itself. This study marks a new path to a clearing and raises a shining flag in the terrain of HDNR. Before I wave those colors I need to do some brush clearing in the field to avail us of HDNR's thrown trajectory. FIrst I need to look back along the way of outdoor recreation research. Later, I'll harvest recent knowledge grown out human geography and steep it in Heidegger's thought. I'll season that with the flavor of object oriented ontology coming from the fresh philosophical field of speculative realism. With all that behind us, I'll present a rigorous method for unearthing a deeper understanding of how wild places, wild things, and people all matter to each other.


This study explores and tracks interpretive meanings for a wilderness area. I describe how wild places are coconstituted in the world with the lives of the people involved and how their knowledge of the world is constructed collectively. This new theoretical approach to interpreting the shared understandings of a wild place is groundbreaking in the field of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. The outcomes will be useful for protected area managers, planners, and decision makers. The research uses onto-phenomenological methodology to identify and illustrate ecologies of meaning for a wild place. Participants will be a purposefully selected group of constituents who exist as part of a public landscape in proposed, recommended, or designated wilderness area.  

This chapter begins with an overview of the context and background that frames the study. The problem statement follows the given context and leads to the statement of purpose, along with accompanying research questions. Also included in this chapter is discussion around the research approach, the researcher’s perspectives, and the researcher’s assumptions. This chapter concludes with a discussion of the proposed rationale and significance of this research study with definitions of key terminology.


Wilderness is both a concrete and abstract environment. It is a legally designated protected area and it is infused with cultural ideals. Wilderness significance emerges through human-nature interaction that produces meaning through individual and collective social processes. Like nature, wilderness is a social construct with a fluid meaning (Evernden, 1992; Eder, 1996; Cronon, 1996; Morton, 2007). Stewards, recreationalists, and other constituents individually and mutually comport, ascribe, and understand meaning for wild places. The overlaps and gaps among those human understandings need to be systematically explicated to generate knowledge and integrate it with natural resource planning and decision-making. The significant meanings embedded in landscapes need enhanced comprehension. People have bodily-comported interpretive meanings for wild places. These kinds of meaning, and the meanings themselves, are absent in the science and practice of ecological stewardship. Protected area managers, planners, and administrators have no way of understanding embodied meanings. The officials responsible for taking care of public landscapes need tools and evidence to understand the meanings that manifest through the patterns of human involvement with wild places. The present gaps scale up to an inadequacy found in the public involvement phase of natural resource planning. Decision-makers struggle to reconcile divergent constituent perspectives. A cleft in the foundation of natural resource planning threatens its integrity.

Cronon, W. (1996). The trouble with wilderness: or, getting back to the wrong nature. Environmental History1(1), 7-28.

Eder, K. (1996). The social construction of nature: A sociology of ecological enlightenment, M.T. Ritter (Trans.). London, UK: Sage Publications.

Evernden, L. L. N. (1992). The social creation of nature. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time, J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson (Trans.). New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Morrison, J., Krieger, R., Manzarek, R. Densmore, J. (1971). Riders on the storm. On L.A. woman. Burbank, CA: Elektra Records.

Morton, T. (2007). Ecology without nature: Rethinking environmental aesthetics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.