The short film project is a collaboration with Phillip Vannini and is part of a larger transmedia/research project on wilderness and wild places.
Filmed in the spring of 2015 during a short trip to Scotland, this video documents the unique practice of Munro bagging through three interviews with British outdoor enthusiasts and through the perspective of three different outings. Munro bagging clearly exemplifies the balance of order, control, wildness, risk, information-management, and adventure typical of much contemporary outdoor recreation.
It is interesting to note that the filming segment from the Isle of Skye took place in land owned by the John Muir Trust of Scotland, an organization focused on the preservation of wild lands in Scotland. Munro bagging in general, in a sense, can properly be understood as a search for wilderness in a space where wildness is becoming very rare.
In the Name of Wild
“In the Name of Wild” is a transmedia-ethnographic research project that explores cross-cultural meanings of wildness and the consequences of naming landscapes natural, wild, or pristine. Between 2014-2020 Royal Roads researchers Dr. Phillip Vannini and Dr. April Vannini will be travelling to 24 UNESCO World Heritage Natural Sites across six continents to explore how wild natures are made, protected, and experienced.
World Heritage Sites are places that are officially recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having special cultural or natural significance. The criteria pertaining to World Heritage Sites’ outstanding natural properties include “superlative natural phenomena,” “exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance,” significant examples of geological, ecological, and biological processes, as well as “most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.” Some people might say these are the most pristine, wild, or purely natural places remaining on our planet.
Other people might say that by naming these places natural or wild we are simply ignoring the peoples and cultures that make them so special.
Dictionaries define wilderness as wild, pristine, and uncultivated land inhabited only by flora and untamed wildlife. Contrasted with culture and human civilization, wilderness brings to mind places where humans are excluded, remaining only as short-term visitors. For example, the 1964 US Wilderness Act—one of the world’s most foundational pieces of legislation on this matter—specifies that wilderness places are: “natural” and thus free from the effects of modern civilization; “undeveloped” and therefore not permanently inhabited by humans and devoid of building structures; “untrammeled” and hence free from control and manipulation; and rich in outstanding opportunities for solitude and “primitive” types of recreation. But is this best way to understand wildness? And what happens to places after we name them like this?
The transmedia-ethnographic research project will visit 10 Canadian UNESCO World Heritage Natural Sites and 14 International Sites. The 5 year project will culminate in a multi-platform of site-specific stories from the people who live there. The 5 year journey will generate a feature documentary, an interactive web-based documentary, and two books. The project is funded by the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.