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Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (17 November 2021) | Viewed by 24380

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: ethnobiology; traditional ecological knowledge; biocultural heritage; natural resource management; rural history; pastoralism
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Guest Editor
Department of Culture and Society, Linköping University, 601 74 Norrköping, Sweden
Interests: heritage; natural resource management; property relations; social movements

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Guest Editor
School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University, SE-551 11 Jönköping, Sweden
Interests: traditional ecological knowledge; cultural heritage; world heritage, natural resource management; indigenous peoples

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Guest Editor
Department for Culture Studies, Linköping University, 581 83 Linköping, Sweden
Interests: copyright; piracy; social movements; property rights; commons

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the past few decades, the parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and later also the Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have stressed the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Indigenous and local peoples are also seen as promoters and/or custodians of traditional ecological knowledge essential to achieving the sustainable development of society as a whole. This is a line of argument that has long been taken by indigenous and local peoples in order to strengthen their role in the governance of their traditional territories. Consequently, instances of cultural revitalization, where people look to cultural traditions to address contemporary ecological problems, are often identified as essential steps in strengthening indigenous and local communities while promoting sustainable uses of natural resources. This Special Issue deals with the inter-relations between traditional knowledge, revitalization, and sustainability and we are interested in examining the uses and potential benefits of these claims in practice and in theory.

We are looking for papers that investigate if, and if so in what way, revitalization of traditional knowledge and practices does or can contribute to sustainable development, both locally and from a broader perspective. This Special Issue engages with the relation between environmental and social sustainability by examining how traditional knowledge and practices can be enacted for a more sustainable usage of environmental resources.

The revitalization of traditional knowledge and practices highlights the inter-relationship between humans and their environment and foregrounds the political significance of culture and identity in relation to environmental sustainability. In many cases, people are turning to tradition and privileging the local to find sustainable alternatives to industrialized ways of life, and to protect a diversity threatened by a dominant and unsustainable lifestyle. Non-industrial traditions and practices are reworked and recontextualized in every-day life.

There are many different topics that could be analyzed, and we are non-exclusively looking for papers that address such issues as:

1) Validation: From a scientific point of view, there is often a request for validation of traditional knowledge and, consequently, we are interested in studies comparing traditional statements and scientific perspectives to show similarities and differences.

2) Revitalization: Empirical or theoretical studies of the relevance of revitalization in order to achieve sustainability.

3) Studies of cultural expressions and their direct or indirect relevance to sustainability.

4) Studies of relevance to the issue of sustainability of customary use of biological resources.

The issue of traditional knowledge, revitalization, and sustainability can be addressed from many different perspectives and this Special Issue is open to contributions from all disciplines and regions but would be particularly directed towards environmentalist, social science, and humanities scholars and invite a wider range of articles on issues relating to traditional knowledge, revitalization, and the impact on environmental, social/cultural, and economic sustainability. Multidisciplinary contributions are especially welcome.

Abstract submissions: 15 March 2021. Upon acceptance of the abstract the deadline for full manuscript submissions 31 May 2021. Papers will be published on an ongoing basis (feel free to contact us if an extension is needed).

Dr. Håkan Tunon
Dr. Johanna Dahlin
Dr. Åsa Nilsson Dahlström
Dr. Martin Fredriksson
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainability
  • revitalization
  • traditional knowledge
  • biological diversity
  • conservation
  • environmental management
  • local governance
  • customary use
  • community-based monitoring
  • indigenous peoples
  • local communities

Published Papers (8 papers)

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16 pages, 289 KiB  
Article
Open Source Seeds and the Revitalization of Local Knowledge
by Martin Fredriksson
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 12270; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132112270 - 6 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2097
Abstract
This article engages with the resistance against the global erosion of seed diversity following the modernization and industrialization of agriculture over the 20th century. This resistance spans from local farming communities that preserve and safeguard traditional landraces to international movements which oppose proprietary [...] Read more.
This article engages with the resistance against the global erosion of seed diversity following the modernization and industrialization of agriculture over the 20th century. This resistance spans from local farming communities that preserve and safeguard traditional landraces to international movements which oppose proprietary seed regulations and promote free sharing of seeds. The article focuses on the latter and presents a study of the open source seed movement: an initiative to apply strategies from the open source software movement to ensure the free circulation of seeds. The erosion of seed diversity can be seen not only as a loss of genetic diversity but also a memory loss where traditional, collective knowledge about how to grow certain landraces is forgotten. Consequently, the open source seed movement is not only about saving seeds but also about preserving and revitalizing local and traditional ecological knowledge against privatization and enclosure through intellectual property rights. The aim of this article is, thus, to analyze the open source seed movement as an act of revitalization in relation to intellectual property rights and in the context of information politics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
17 pages, 625 KiB  
Article
Indigenous Pest Management Practices of Indian Hill Farmers: Introspecting Their Rationale and Communication Pattern for Secure Ecosystems
by Surya Rathore, Manish Chandola, Rupan Raghuvanshi, Manmeet Kaur and Kundan Veer Singh
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11608; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111608 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4030
Abstract
Indigenous technical knowledge derived from traditional wisdom is an asset of farmers in developing countries. To ensure the continuity of these practices for future generations, we need to understand the scientific rationality and their communication patterns, and then document them. This study aimed [...] Read more.
Indigenous technical knowledge derived from traditional wisdom is an asset of farmers in developing countries. To ensure the continuity of these practices for future generations, we need to understand the scientific rationality and their communication patterns, and then document them. This study aimed to document the indigenous pest management practices, test their scientific rationality, and determine their communication pattern among the farmers. A total of 120 farmers from district Bageshwar in Uttarakhand, India, were selected through the simple random sampling method. Interviews and focussed group discussions were used to collect data. Out of a total of 32 documented indigenous practices, 27 were found to be rational by the scientists. Neighbours ranked first as the source of information, followed by friends and relatives. Knowledge related to managing pests through indigenous methods was shared by the farmers, mainly in temples. They learned the practical application of these indigenous practices during childhood while working with parents in the fields, followed by observing their friends and relatives. The indigenous technical knowledge should be conserved and combined with the scientific cognizance for sustainable agriculture. Next- generation farmers need to be motivated to adopt these practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
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11 pages, 257 KiB  
Article
Whose Knowledge Counts? The Struggle to Revitalise Indigenous Knowledges in Guatemala
by Johanna Bergström
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11589; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111589 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1741
Abstract
This paper investigates the role of indigenous knowledge in relation to ideas of sustainability focusing on Guatemala. Previous research on environmental engagement and public understanding of science demonstrates the importance of including different perspectives, including traditional forms of knowledges such as for example [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the role of indigenous knowledge in relation to ideas of sustainability focusing on Guatemala. Previous research on environmental engagement and public understanding of science demonstrates the importance of including different perspectives, including traditional forms of knowledges such as for example indigenous knowledges. Environmental governance and management are areas in which indigenous peoples strive towards an acceptance of indigenous knowledge to be placed next to Western scientific knowledge. The struggle concerns the management and control of indigenous territories, but it also concerns the dismantling of a hierarchical understanding of knowledge, which lessens indigenous knowledge about ecosystems and about how to create a good life. Through the revitalization of indigenous knowledge and traditional practices, indigenous communities develop ideas and establishments to find paths towards socioecological balance. This paper studies indigenous groups’ understandings of indigenous knowledge, their struggle to revitalise knowledge and their efforts for it to become validated. It uses decolonial theory in its analysis and raises questions of power structures and hierarchies within academia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
16 pages, 280 KiB  
Article
Revitalizing Traditional Agricultural Practices: Conscious Efforts to Create a More Satisfying Culture
by Johanna Dahlin and Elin Svensson
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11424; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011424 - 15 Oct 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2566
Abstract
This paper investigates how non-industrial agrarian traditions and practices are reworked and recontextualized in a contemporary context. Explorative in its nature, the paper uses in depth interviews with practitioners in eastern Sweden, several of whom are engaged in work to keep practices of [...] Read more.
This paper investigates how non-industrial agrarian traditions and practices are reworked and recontextualized in a contemporary context. Explorative in its nature, the paper uses in depth interviews with practitioners in eastern Sweden, several of whom are engaged in work to keep practices of the past alive, to discuss how the concept of revitalization can bear on sustainability. Traditional practices are revived as an alternative to industrialized agriculture, and as having a bearing on resilient cultivation systems as well as social relations. They are seen as means of increasing food security and reversing the negative biodiversity development caused by increased monoculture. We understand tradition as a process of negotiation and adaptation to the present, where revivals to some extent necessarily change the traditions that they attempt to revive. Tradition is thus a dynamic concept, always made in the present, never fixed but constantly evolving. In the challenges created by climate change and environmental degradation, it is increasingly voiced that true sustainability requires a transformation of the cultural system. In many cases, people are turning to tradition for sustainable alternatives to industrialized ways of life and to protect a diversity threatened by a dominant and unsustainable lifestyle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
23 pages, 349 KiB  
Article
Pathfinders for the Future? Indigenous Rights and Traditional Knowledge in Sweden
by Åsa Nilsson Dahlström, Johanna Dahlin and Håkan Tunón
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11195; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132011195 - 11 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2174
Abstract
Indigenous peoples have for the past decades increasingly argued that not only is their traditional knowledge to be recognized in the management of their traditional territories, but that Indigenous control and self-governance over territories and natural resources are crucial for long-term sustainability of [...] Read more.
Indigenous peoples have for the past decades increasingly argued that not only is their traditional knowledge to be recognized in the management of their traditional territories, but that Indigenous control and self-governance over territories and natural resources are crucial for long-term sustainability of the land and cultural revitalisation of its people. In recent years, the Saami in Sweden have also presented themselves as pathfinders, offering advice and solutions for a more sustainable future not only for the Saami society, but for all of Sweden. This paper investigates how Saami claims for rights and stewardship in environmental management are related to Saami cultural revitalisation, within a Swedish colonial framework. It is based on an investigation of the Saami policy positions expressed in policy documents and opinion pieces produced by organisations representing the Saami, linking claims for rights and environmental stewardship with cultural revitalisation and a more sustainable development for all. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
23 pages, 2174 KiB  
Article
Revitalization of Food in Sweden—A Closer Look at the REKO Network
by Axel Gruvaeus and Johanna Dahlin
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10471; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810471 - 21 Sep 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3052
Abstract
Can parts of the future food system include bi-weekly opportunities to purchase uneven stocks of produce at semi-remote locations? Current development in the Swedish food system suggests so. In the last few years, the Swedish Alternative Food Network ‘REKO’ has grown at an [...] Read more.
Can parts of the future food system include bi-weekly opportunities to purchase uneven stocks of produce at semi-remote locations? Current development in the Swedish food system suggests so. In the last few years, the Swedish Alternative Food Network ‘REKO’ has grown at an explosive pace. This anthropological article describes and discusses the organizational structure and motivations of the network, as well as discusses it from a revitalization perspective. From a netnographical and policy analysis perspective it is shown how the network uses social media and policy to convey a low bureaucracy, end to end, commercial space for local food—understood as a more “simple” way to achieve direct relationships in the food supply chain and thus create opportunities for local food networks. By adopting a view of the conventions and values of this Alternative Food Network as representing a parallel system aiming at facilitating direct relationships between ends in the food supply chain, the REKO initiative can be understood as a feasible model for a more satisfactory culture without needing to replace the mainstream food supply. The findings of the research deepen the understanding of REKO in Sweden by pointing towards how it can be understood as a sign of change of consumer preference and of prioritization of official policy concerns. The article also points towards how grass root movements can replicate success rapidly using policy documents capturing experiences and best practices spread online through social media. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
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21 pages, 327 KiB  
Article
Te Pūkenga Atawhai—Cultural Awareness Raising and Conservation for Future Use in Aotearoa New Zealand
by Åsa Nilsson Dahlström
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10073; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810073 - 8 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2632
Abstract
At Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand, ‘cultural differences’ account for some of the difficulties that department staff experience in their interaction with Indigenous Māori in conservation work. To meet the need for better ‘cultural awareness’ of Māori conservation principles, [...] Read more.
At Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation in Aotearoa New Zealand, ‘cultural differences’ account for some of the difficulties that department staff experience in their interaction with Indigenous Māori in conservation work. To meet the need for better ‘cultural awareness’ of Māori conservation principles, the department has facilitated the development of Te Pūkenga Atawhai, which is an introductory course to Māori views of conservation offered to all department staff. For Māori, the course is also a part of a broader revitalisation process for Māori culture and society and a recognition of their bicultural Treaty partnership with the Crown. The paper investigates how the Te Pūkenga Atawhai course addresses the perceived difficulties with cultural differences between DOC and Māori in conservation work, and how Pou Kura Taiao and participants perceive its usefulness for teaching staff about Māori views of conservation. Some department staff argue that the course has contributed to a better understanding of Māori culture and conservation principles; others that it is too politicised and engages in cultural ‘tokenism’ of little relevance for conservation work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)

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36 pages, 6784 KiB  
Case Report
Protecting Traditional Knowledge through Biocultural Community Protocols in Madagascar: Do Not Forget the “B” in BCP
by Manohisoa Rakotondrabe and Fabien Girard
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10255; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810255 - 14 Sep 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3642
Abstract
As in many other countries in the south, the traditional knowledge (TK) of local communities in Madagascar is facing extinction. Biocultural community protocols (BCP), introduced in Madagascar following the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (2010) and defined by the Mo’otz Kuxtal Voluntary Guidelines [...] Read more.
As in many other countries in the south, the traditional knowledge (TK) of local communities in Madagascar is facing extinction. Biocultural community protocols (BCP), introduced in Madagascar following the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (2010) and defined by the Mo’otz Kuxtal Voluntary Guidelines as “a wide range of expressions, articulations, rules and practices produced by communities to indicate how they wish to engage in negotiations with stakeholders”, holds out hopes for TK protection. By analysing two pilot BCPs in Madagascar, one established around the Motrobe (Cinnamosma fragrans) with a view to strengthening the existing value chain (BCP in Mariarano and Betsako) and the second initially established around plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (BCP of the farmers in Analavory), this study aims to assess the place and value ascribed to TK in the overall BCP development process and to analyse whether or not the process has helped to strengthen and revitalise TK at the community level. The ethnographic studies show commonalities in both BCP, in particular their main focus on access and benefit-sharing mechanisms, this against the backdrop of an economic model which stresses the importance of financial and institutional incentives; and conversely, a relative disregard for what relates to the biocultural dimension of TK. Local taboos (fady) as well as traditional dina (social conventions), which have long allowed for the regulation of access to common resources/TK, are scarcely mentioned. Based on these findings, we conclude that in order to revitalise TK, the process of developing BCPs should recognise and give special importance to TK, considering it as a biocultural whole, bound together with the territory, local customs, and biological resources; or else, TK is likely to remain a commodity to be valued economically, or a component like any other. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Traditional Knowledge, Revitalization, and Sustainability)
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