BIPOC Communities in the Outdoors: Insisting, Resisting, and Persisting

Date

2023-12-18

Authors

Girgrah, Reem

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Abstract

This interdisciplinary qualitative study explores how outdoor adventure functions as joy as resistance for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) Instagram users. Using digital ethnographic and reflexive thematic analysis methodologies, I examined a sample of Instagram posts with the hashtag #diversifyoutdoors and narratives of outdoor adventure described as joy as resistance. To analyse the data, I used an intersectional feminist theoretical framework grounded in Black and Indigenous, anti-racist, decolonial and feminist theories. Instagram posts revealed four themes: 1) representation and underrepresentation; 2) challenging the dominant narrative; 3) dreaming, inspiration, healing, and wellness; 4) connection, family, and community. Instagram users asserted that outdoor adventure is any experience in the outdoors where reflection, connection and healing can happen. Intersectional feminist, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive social work understands that social inequities are the result of historical and current social contexts of systemic oppression and ongoing violence. BIPOC communities experience marginalization and exclusion from opportunities, meaningful participation, and a thriving life. Therefore, engaging in acts to combat systemic oppressions and experiences that foster joy are vital to keeping resistance movements healthy, vibrant, and effective. Engaging in joyful acts of resistance that subvert dominant narratives is a gap in social work education and practice. The dominant narrative of outdoor adventure is both colonial and racist. Subverting dominant narratives through acts such as joyfully engaging in outdoor adventure for BIPOC communities can be a way to rejuvenate and care for our wellness through the ongoing collective effort to combat social inequities and create social change.

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Keywords

BIPOC, outdoor adventure, joy as resistance

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