Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Laurel Graham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shawn Bingham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Friedman, Ph.D.


hybridity, nature, non-human/human binary, orchid growing, orchids


Orchid growing is a hobby that includes not only acquiring and caring for orchids, but also learning about the diverse care requirements of various orchids, attending meetings of orchid groups, having one’s orchids evaluated by American Orchid Society judges or being a judge, or even creating hybrids. In this way, orchid hobbyists compose a distinctive subculture (Hansen 2000). Yet the activity of orchid growing also forms a nexus between the non-human and the human, two categories that are often constructed as an opposing binary. This thesis focuses on how orchid growing represents both the embedded, institutionalized characteristic of the binary between the non-human and the human and how this binary is actively deconstructed; that is, orchid growers often reinforce this binary through positioning their orchids as a part of “nature” and also blur it by participating in the activity of orchid growing. Through observations of monthly meetings of two local orchid groups and affiliated events and walking tours of individual participants’ orchid growing spaces and semi-structured interviews with them, I show how orchid growing represents such a “hybrid” form of nature (Whatmore 2002). Specifically, the ways in which orchid growers appreciate the novelty of their orchids, care for them, and establish authenticity in orchid growing demonstrates the nuanced ways orchid growing forms a relationship with “nature.”

Included in

Sociology Commons