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Barren (Yeld): (Traces of Ain) landscape, postcolonialism and identity

Barren (Yeld): (Traces of Ain) landscape, postcolonialism and identity
Filippa Jane Dobson


School of Design, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UNITED KINGDOM.


Yeld is a Scottish/North of England word meaning barren. The practice-based research contradicts binary notions of fertile/unfertile, nature/culture and inside/outside, arguing for a more nuanced entanglement of the human with the non-human animal and the other-than-human environment. The thesis details the productive ‘naturecultural’ relationship between the author and the Badger Stone, a Neolithic cup and ring marked statutory monument on Ilkley Moor. The three key aims of my practice-based research relate to geographical boundaries, the structuring of identity and cultural resistance to issues of power and control. The research tests postcolonial theory as a strategy for reading landscape and investigating geographical boundaries and relates postcolonial theory to phenomenological and other theories about the structuring of identity in relation to performance and place. My research to date has signified a change in emphasis from a definition of postcolonialism as necessarily boundaried and territorial to a potentially new understanding of postcolonialism as signifying a political tactic of resistance to issues of power and control. The primary themes of walking, collecting, mapping and printmaking were the catalyst into performance and land art. Four key performances on the Moor investigated considerations of place in relation to what I term ‘heritage control’ as a strategy for land management and access to scheduled monuments. By intertwining different theoretical ideas and actions, print forms became natural/cultural objects situated somewhere between physical artefacts and ephemeral performance. It is the combination of performance with principles of mapping that form the potentially original contribution to knowledge that this thesis attempts to outline.