Session: Vital Connections in Ecology: Novel Collaborations with Community Stakeholders - LB 13
Decoloniality and anti-oppressive praxis in ecology: Making vital connections outside the colonial science bubble
Thursday, August 5, 2021
Link To Share This Poster: https://cdmcd.co/zY9Jv5
Madhusudan Katti, Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, Christopher Trisos, African Climate and Development Initiative, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, MD, South Africa and Jess Auerbach, Department of Anthropology, North West University, South Africa
Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC, USA
Background/Question/Methods: Ecological research and practice are crucial to understanding and making vital connections for more positive relationships between people and ecosystems. However, ecology as a discipline and the diversity of those who call themselves ecologists have also been shaped and held back by often exclusionary Western approaches to knowing and doing ecology. There is an inherent contradiction in Western ecologists studying and celebrating the diversity of species and their local adaptations across the world’s diverse ecosystems while also excluding the diversity of human beings, cultures, and traditional ecological knowledge systems that can help us better understand and steward these ecosystems for future generations. To overcome these historical constraints and to make ecology inclusive of the diverse peoples inhabiting Earth’s varied ecosystems, ecologists must expand their knowledge both in theory and practice to incorporate varied perspectives, approaches, and interpretations from, with, and within the natural environment and across global systems. Results/Conclusions: We outline five shifts that could help transform academic ecological practice: 1. Decolonise your Mind to include multiple ways of knowing and communicating science; 2. Know your Histories to acknowledge our discipline’s role in enabling colonial violence against indigenous peoples and nature, and in upholding systemic racism and oppression; 3. Decolonise Access, going beyond Open Access journals and data repositories to address issues of data sovereignty and the power dynamics of research ownership; 4. Decolonise Expertise, by acknowledging indigenous expertise in local ecologies and giving credit and weight to that knowledge as science; and 5. Practice Ethical Ecology in Inclusive Teams, by establishing diverse and inclusive research teams that actively deconstruct biases so all team members are empowered participants in developing new knowledge. We challenge the discipline to become more inclusive, creative, and ethical at a moment when the perils of entrenched thinking have never been clearer. Positionality Statement: The authors of this paper all completed undergraduate degrees at institutions in formerly colonized nations of the Global South, before undertaking graduate studies and research positions at elite Northern Universities. These experiences were fundamental to embodied awareness of the inequities of research, learning, and teaching. Aware of multiple shapings of race, gender, and class, among others, we acknowledge the complexity of terms such as ‘indigenous,’ ‘Western,’ and ‘global North/South’ and the difficulty of writing across disciplines and ways of understanding multiple ‘natures’. This paper is not an easy fix to centuries of violence, but rather a contribution to an ongoing discussion.