April 3: Dissertation Defense – Gavin Lamb


PhD in Second Language Studies Dissertation Defense

Gavin Lamb

The nexus of discourse and practice in sea turtle tourism and conservation at Laniākea Beach, Hawai‘i

Chair: Christina Higgins

Wednesday, April 3, 9:30 a.m.– 11:30 a.m.
Moore Hall, 258


This dissertation investigates the discursive practices emerging in the overlapping contexts of sea turtle tourism and conservation at Laniākea Beach, Hawai‘i which serve to produce the local activities, linguistic practices, and intercultural relations between international tourists and conservation volunteers around sea turtles at this beach. By examining tourist-volunteer interaction, volunteers’ training to use an educational discourse of sea turtle outreach, and interviews with volunteers, tourists and other stakeholders in the community, I ask how the wider discourses of sea turtle tourism and conservation converge at this beach to produce the actions and identities people construct around endangered wildlife like sea turtles. Using nexus analysis as an ethnographic sociolinguistic approach to discourse analysis, I investigate what exactly happens in situ in volunteer-tourist interaction as a key site to understand how intercultural identities of inclusion and exclusion and community membership in relation to sea turtles are produced. I take up this investigation primarily from the perspective of honu guardians, or sea turtle conservation volunteers, as they work to carry out their sea turtle educational and protection efforts at Laniākea Beach. But I also examine how tourists move through, interact with and talk about sea turtles as well in this beachspace, as the volunteer efforts to protect sea turtles at this beach only emerged in parallel with a growing sea turtle tourism industry promoting Laniākea Beach as a popular tourist destination. Here, I trace how honu guardians and turtle tourists circulate conservation and tourism discourses through their embodied, interactional and digital practices at this beach to explore the hybrid and creative discursive practices emerging at this sea turtle tourism-conservation nexus. Ultimately, the aim of this dissertation is to address the emerging ‘posthumanist’ question of how people are becoming caught up with animals and nature through their semiotic practices, and what new discourses and intercultural relations are emerging as a result, particularly in an era when there is a heightened awareness of cultural differences and sameness in regard to human relations with the natural world. Overall, then, my research adds to a growing body of work in ecolinguistics on the discursive representations of animals and nature, and in sociolinguistics on the discursive practices of intercultural communication in the contexts of wildlife conservation and international ecotourism.