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Westall, Glen (2020) Trespass. Masters thesis, University of Essex.

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Trespass is written at a moment when renewed questions over land justice and private property are breaking back into mainstream public discourse. There is a growing recognition and horror over the scale of private land ownership in England and Wales as well as what that means for our rights as people on this land, particularly in the way it reinforces the economic disparities of the country. One of the most sacred tenets of private property is that the owner has control over who can and cannot cross or use the land, regardless of how that land is used. Though the law allows exceptions to this – such as to prevent a crime in progress – they remain exceptions. This stands in stark contrast to other European nations such as Scotland and Norway where the ‘right to roam’ across a majority of land is enshrined both in law and culture. I have drawn on my experiences as a hunt saboteur to inform the narrative and commentary. Trespass explores how hunt sabotage provides a channel for the majority of the public to not only witness the injustices of private ownership but a means for confronting it as well. Although ostensibly an animal rights issue, hunt sabotage lays at the intersection of animal rights, land justice, police and judicial corruption, and collective empowerment. In addition to this, I have bookended Trespass with stories of my son’s experiences with growing up in the countryside and my own countryside childhood. This is important because the issue of land ownership is a cultural one that begins affecting our beliefs and lives from the very start, Trespass is positioned in relation to the genre broadly called ‘new nature writing’ because I believe the majority of books in this field do not adequately confront the problems of privileged land ownership. This is an issue because these books play an important role in developing our narrative and social understanding of the land around us. To ignore and avoid the way that power operates in these spaces is tantamount to endorsing it. I’ve used images such as OS maps in mimicry of the maps sometimes found in new nature writing titles as well as other images to better illustrate the points I’ve made. Song lyrics have been included throughout because I believe they reflect a common and collective form of sharing stories and beliefs. Both images and lyrics also serve to make the piece more visually engaging. Alongside the critical commentary, I aim to push trespassing as a natural and necessary starting point for reshaping our relationship to the land. I use critical theory on the power relations of space as well as human relationships with the non-human to show that a simple act such as trespassing can bring profound changes. Moreover, that it is a tool used by social movements throughout England’s history.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2021 15:14
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2021 15:14

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