Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-12-2017


In this dissertation, I explore agricultural practices as a window into ecocultural communication. Using agricultural practices of villagers in Village G, Oman, as a case study, I explore the ways in which villagers and government officials conceptualize humanature relations and the forces that enhance and/or impede these relations. My specific goals for this study were: (1) to build an interpretive understanding of ecocultural orientations of villagers and officials in Oman and how they conceptualize their humanature relations; (2) to critically examine ideologies and uncover structural forces that enable/constrain humanature relations; and (3) to co-create community engagement work that honors the ecocultural wisdom of farmers, promotes economic viability, and enhances ecocultural sustainability. Accordingly, I ask a set of three questions: RQ 1: What grassroots core ecocultural premises do Omani villagers communicate?, RQ 2: What core ecocultural premises do official government documents and officials discourse communicate in Oman?, and RQ 3: How does analysis of core components of critical community engagement inform researcher-villager-governmental collaborations to design sustainable practices? To answer these questions, I collected data through focus groups, individual interviews, participant observation and official government documents. Using Cultural Discourse Analysis (Carbaugh, 2007) and Community Engagement Framework (Collier, 2014) I identify three ecocultural premises in grassroots discourse: (1) Relations-in-place, (2) kinship-in-place and (3) nurturance-in-place, and four ecocultural premises in governmental discourse: (1) Modern agriculture is more effective than traditional agriculture, (2) Imported food and modern technology feed a growing population, (3) Technologized farming attracts youth, (4) Modern agriculture and profit-motivated practices achieve sustainability but traditional farming is not sustainable. I offer a date palm metaphor as an organizing principle that depicts humanature relations and the contextual factors that enhance and/or hinder these relations. Because date palms have shown resilience over harsh ecological conditions when water was scarce in Oman and heat was high, in this project, I use the date palm as a metaphor that exhibits an alternative discourse to globalized neoliberal ideological discourses.




Oman, culture, nature, globalization, ecocultural sustainability, environmental communication

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tema Milstein

Second Committee Member

Mary Jane Collier

Third Committee Member

Ilia Rodriguez

Fourth Committee Member

John Carr