Placing science for natural resource management and climate variability: lessons from narratives of risk, place and identity
Leith, P and Vanclay, F, Placing science for natural resource management and climate variability: lessons from narratives of risk, place and identity, Sociologia Ruralis, 57, (2) pp. 155-170. ISSN 0038-0199 (2017) [Refereed Article]
Making salient, credible and legitimate knowledge for natural resource management (NRM) and adaptation to climate change is achievable when scientific knowledge is grounded in place. Making scientific knowledge locally relevant can be assisted by an understanding of the way ‘placed knowledge’ comes into being. Taking two prominent conceptions of place (Massey and Ingold), we ground these empirically using narratives from graziers in the eastern Australian rangelands. We examine placed conceptions of risk and uncertainty and the ways they are linked to narratives of identity, local environmental change, and understandings of place. Paying heed to narratives enables a reframing of risk and uncertainty into locally-meaningful forms. This fosters dialogue between various epistemic communities in ways that acknowledge and respect different ways of knowing and differences in the content of knowledge. It provides an analytical basis for scientists and institutions to reflect on the applicability of their information and technology in particular contexts. With this approach, scientists, policymakers and other rural community stakeholders can develop their awareness of how placed narratives link social practices and locally-legitimate understandings of good farm management and biophysical systems. This will help to ‘place’ science for NRM, agricultural extension and rural development.