Action Research With and For Pack Mules
Transforming the Welfare of Working Equines in International Mountain Tourism
Keywords:awareness based systems change, action research, working equines, pack mules, mountain tourism, theory u, one health
The welfare of equines working as pack animals on treks and expeditions within the international mountain tourism industry is often severely compromised. Awareness of these issues and of what prevents owners, trekking teams and the wider industry knowing and attending to the equine and to equine welfare has been advanced through a sustained research and development initiative and Action Research project focusing on the international mountain tourism industry in the Moroccan High Atlas. An approach based on Theory U and on the development of co-seeing, co-sensing, and co-creating journeys has allowed deeper levels of awareness to be accessed and developed. Shifting the quality of attention, of meeting, and of dialogue has allowed eco-system awareness to develop, where previously silo-thinking and ego-system awareness had prevailed. This has allowed muleteering practice to evolve away from practices based on control and domination towards practices informed by the dialogical encounter. This paper will explore the role of Action Research in developing the awareness of the tourism industry and the communities of practice it supports. Absencing as a barrier to awareness and the approaches available to overcome it will be explored. A key distinction will be made between the outcomes emerging from the co-creative projects arising from genuine meeting and dialogue, and the outcomes arising from the failure to meet and dialogue genuinely, a failure rooted in the exploitation embedded in hierarchical relationships.
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