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The Problem of Scale in Indigenous Knowledge: a Perspective from Northern Australia

Wohling, Marc (2009). The Problem of Scale in Indigenous Knowledge: a Perspective from Northern Australia. Ecology and Society,14(1):Article 1.

Document type: Journal Article
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 21 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Title The Problem of Scale in Indigenous Knowledge: a Perspective from Northern Australia
Author Wohling, Marc
Journal Name Ecology and Society
Publication Date 2009
Volume Number 14
Issue Number 1
ISSN 1708-3087   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Scopus ID 2-s2.0-69149101171
Start Page Article 1
Total Pages 14
Place of Publication Canada
Publisher Resilience Alliance Publications
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract Over the last decade, indigenous knowledge has been widely touted by researchers and natural resource managers as a valuable contributor to natural resource management and biodiversity conservation. In Australia, the concept of indigenous knowledge has gained such rapid currency that it has tended toward an essentialized and universal truth rather than remaining a diverse range of highly localized and contested knowledge. In this paper, I undertake a critical analysis of some of the current issues around the interpretation and application of indigenous knowledge and its relationship with natural resource management in northern Australia. Through a focus on how indigenous knowledge operates at a range of scales, I argue that indigenous knowledge is not adapted to the scales and kinds of disturbances that contemporary society is exerting on natural systems. Rather than being realistic about the limitations of indigenous knowledge, I argue that nonindigenous interpretations of indigenous knowledge have propelled us toward reified meanings, abstracted concepts, and an information-based taxonomy of place. The result can be the diminishing and ossifying of a dynamic living practice and the failure to recognize expressions of indigeneity in contemporary forms.
Keywords decision making
ecological scale
ecology
ethnoecology
indigenous knowledge
natural resource management
northern Australia
Description for Link Link to published version
URL http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss1/art1/


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