Artifact Title: Mother Nature

Medium: Photo

Creator: Hillary Kaell

Location: Montreal

Year: 2022

TERA Curator: Hillary Kaell

Mother Nature

These loose leaf sheets of paper document part of Hillary Kaell’s survey of local usage of the phrase “Mother Nature” in sixty years’ worth of newspapers from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One aspect to think about is how local forms of theology—meaning knowledge about God or other-than-human agents—develop around specific terms and in specific ecological settings. We could ignore a term like “Mother Nature” because it seems banal, but what if we think of it as containing layers of meaning about the interrelation between people and their environment? This artifact also raises a question about practices of knowledge-making in the social sciences, or in any field. Cataloguing how people use “Mother Nature” creates an ordered system that makes usable data for study. It is a process of solidifying what was flexible and unremarked. As scholars, how can we think about what it means to “make” knowledge? What kind of imposition is it?