How to Become a Mushroom: A New Nature Ethnography of Fungi in Aotearoa
This thesis proposes that the moment of interaction between a person and a fungus is transformative of both subjects. Using new nature writing techniques in tandem with multispecies ethnography, this thesis seeks to present a rich, autoethnographic account of my encounters with fungi in the native forests of the West Coast of Aotearoa. Drawing on five days of ethnographic fieldwork spent at the Fungal Network of New Zealand (FUNNZ) annual Fungal Foray in the township of Moana, I explore the affective, emotional, sensory, intellectual, and corporeal experiences of interacting with fungi. Using new nature writing as an ethnographic medium, I suggest that narratives that pertain to the researcher’s experiences can render new understandings of nonhuman subjects. In doing so, I explore both the transformative potential of multispecies encounters for the researcher and the researched, and the literary potential of multispecies ethnography to illustrate the encounters themselves.