When we talk about Trees
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This thesis, written for the MSc in Cultural Anthropology: Sustainable Citizenship, describes and explains relationships between people and trees in the context of ‘nominating trees’ for two projects. Looking at people’s narratives and practices about trees, this research examines the meanings of human-tree relationships from a project-organisational, human (people) and multispecies (the tree) perspective. The affective encounters in a co-habited urban environment and reciprocal connections between trees and people are explained by reviewing the human experience of tree symbolism, historicity and different temporalities, the identification (identity-making) of people with trees, the practices of exchanging care and services and feelings of affection, respect or pride for trees. Seeing trees as agents in producing these outcomes, this study explores the space they inhabit (tree-space) and uses the terms ‘life network’ and ‘cohabitation’ to examine human- tree relationships. On the one hand the practice of ‘tree nomination’ is a response to processes of commodification of trees, urbanization, and a bureaucratic and anthropocentric take on life in cities (tree bureaucracy) in the Anthropocene. On the other hands, this thesis also acknowledges shifting ideas on how to describe the cultural division between human and non-human life from a multispecies perspective and introduces the idea of a continuum to describe these shifts. To expand the applicability of this study beyond academia, local authorities could embrace dialogues with residents to acknowledge the roles that trees play in the life networks of urban co-inhabitants.