Sarah’s first academic journal article, published in Qualitative Inquiry and available to the public as open access through Sage Choice.


Consideration of trees has historically been confined to disciplinary, quantitative perspectives embedded in botany, earth sciences, resource management, environmental sustainability, and sustainable development wherein trees are largely viewed as senseless, bio-mechanical matter to be controlled and used for human consumption and economic gain. In this article, I reflect selectively on methodologies and methods I used in a broader, interdisciplinary project to study the sentient, intelligent relationality of trees as agentic, conscious, innovative entities embedded in unique, community-based lifeways. My research framework integrated Indigenous research methodologies, public ethnography, ontological emergence theory, plant science, philosophies of plant and nonhuman knowing, interspecies communication, and filmmaking. Herein, I focus on how perspectives and approaches based on qualitative, ethnographic inquiry and Indigenous epistemologies support and broaden research, (re)presentation, and engagement with trees and other nonhumans. Methods I discuss include the practices of cultivating tree/human communication and fostering human sensitivity and embodied knowing.

–> Link to article.

Abbott, S. (2021). Approaching nonhuman ontologies: Trees, communication, and qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry, 27(8-9): 1059-1071.

First published online March 9, 2021.
(Open Access through Sage Choice thanks to the Canadian Knowledge Research Network.)

–> Link to articles citing this article.

Image: Tree Whisperer Dr. Jim Conroy and Ash, New Jersey
Video still: Sarah Abbott