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Abbi Virens

Abbi Virens (160)PhD Candidate

Tel +64 3 4703579

Abbi Virens is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Sustainability. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology at Laurentian University in Canada. Since graduating university Abbi has worked in ornithology, studying and banding birds in Canada, Denmark and Australia. Birding provided an amazing opportunity for her to become immersed into the natural landscape, from which she developed a love for plant identification and foraging. Since moving to Dunedin, foraging has provided her with a way to interact with the new environment while also remaining connected to her home. These experiences inspired her to look further into how other people perceive their own foraging practices.


Abbi is looking to explore the dynamics of the foraging community in Dunedin/Ōtepoti. In particular she wants to know how foraging connect people to the land, plants, animals and their own community. To conduct this research, she will be interviewing local foragers, when possible, at their foraging patch. She is hoping to capture the interest of different kinds of foragers, to explore the variety of foraging experiences. Results will be analysed through the lens of post-human commons and commoning to understand how public flora participate in unconventional local social and economic systems.

Her research will offer a new perspective of the urban environment Dunedin/Ōtepoti, highlighting its unexpected natural resources. She hopes that foraging will show how humans can interact with the environment in novel ways to access different forms of food, medicine and craft materials. Hopefully her research will also reveal how foraging is more-than the act of gathering, but also provides an interaction with nature, land and culture

Abbi's research  To See the City for the Weeds: exploring urban foraging in Dunedin/Ōtepoti

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Legun, K., & Virens, A. (2020). Interventions offered by actor-network theory, assemblage theory, and new materialisms for environmental sociology. In K. Legun, J. C. Keller, M. Carolan & M. M. Bell (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Environmental Sociology (Vol. 2). (pp. 161-175). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/9781108554558.011

Virens, A. (2018). Urban foraging: The solitary commons. Proceedings of the New Zealand Geographical Society (NZGS) and the Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) Conference. (pp. 139). Retrieved from