Nina Welters

KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt

Am Marktplatz 2

85072 Eichstätt

Nina Welters holds a master´s degree in geography from the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. During her studies she concentrated on a variety of topics and geographical regions, from political conflicts and mental health in the Middle East to land distribution in Namibia or varying representations of China´s “Belt and Road Initiative”. In her master thesis, Nina analyzed typical attributions of the region “Rhineland” and the underlying intentions of their usage by selected regional networks.

Her dissertation with the working title “Hunting `the wild´. (Re-)configurations of `the wild´ through dynamics of practices, imaginations and place” will focus on how “the wild” is configured as a place of experiences worth seeking – or hunting for.

Places of “the wild”. Practicing wilderness and wildlife in Namibia

In today´s modern(ised) world, the experience of seemingly “original” nature and animals has gained a special value. Wildlife-related activities like safaris, photography and hunting, do not only have a great touristic market value. They also help to establish the image of certain lifestyles, like the one of an adventurous, daring traveler, often publicly presented on Social Media platforms. But “wildlife” is not simply “wildlife”. Some species appear to be more desirable and media-effective than others and also the place of encounter seems to play a crucial role. Countries like Namibia with vast and extreme landscapes, nearly 40% of land covered by protection areas and populations of iconic and vulnerable or endangered animals combine several aspects important to nearly everyone interested in wildlife.

There already is a great variety of research on the benefits, challenges and effects of practices revolving around wildlife-experiences, their representation on Social Media and the use of these media to create an image of oneself. However, the correlations between questions of what animals and landscapes are desirable, where and how exactly encounters are supposed to happen and what understandings of wild nature and animals these expectations are based on have rarely been targeted in research yet. First approaches to this field suggest a close connection to (neo-)colonialism on the one hand and aspects of non-human charisma and affection on the other hand.

The deconstruction of wilderness- and wildlife-related practices and representations therefore not only aims at discovering how places of wildlife are being made, but also on what ideals these constructions are based and how they might be contextualized in a (post-) colonial perspective.