Political and epistemic uses of local knowledge in the face of environmental global change (EN)

Elise Demeulenaere (CNRS)
Patricia Howard (Wageningen University)
Marie Roué
Start time:
13 July, 2012 at 11:30
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Twenty years after the Rio Convention, which institutionally recognized the ecological contribution of "indigenous and local communities", this workshop aims to examine the present uses (both political and epistemic) of local knowledge in the face of environmental global change.

Long abstract:

Following the Rio Convention (1992) which institutionally recognized the contribution of "indigenous and local communities" to the sustainable management of natural resources, following the book "Acting in an uncertain world" (Callon et al. 2001) which called for opening up research to a large range of knowledge to face situations of uncertainty, the broad topic of local/traditional ecological knowledge (L/TEK) has given rise to many academic works from different traditions. In line with the institutional framework, some works emphasized the relevance of mobilizing L/TEK with the prospect of achieving norms of sustainability (including ecological and democratic dimensions). Other works critically examined the participatory turn in the environmental governance as a way for institutions to legitimize their action. Others deciphered the power relations and new identities generated by the sudden recognition of formerly ignored forms of knowledge. Since then, the context of both the environment and environmental governance has slightly changed: climate change and biodiversity loss appear as imminent and with unexpected effects, the agenda is less and less about mitigation and more about adaptation, and L/TEK is now presented as a resource for peoples to adapt to the coming changes. This workshop aims to continue and renew these works on the political and epistemic uses of local knowledge (as opposed to scientific knowledge), with a special interest in critical contributions on adaptation and resilience, two notions that have recently become pervasive in the environmental governance discourses.