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Accepted Paper:

We share collaborative efforts of geographers and holders/ users of indigenous knowledge in Xolobeni, South Africa to map and promote indigenous knowledge and bottom-up, community-led development.  
Hali Healy (University of Johannesburg)

Paper short abstract:

We contribute findings/unexpected lessons from a participatory counter-mapping exercise underway in Xolobeni to support a Peoples' EIA. The EIA is being developed by grassroots community members opposed to state plans to mine titanium sands, and more recently gas and oil reserves off the Wild Coast.

Paper long abstract:

This article describes how participatory methods (combining indigenous storytelling and visioning) were combined with GIS technology to map the past, present and future of Amadiba communities in the area of Xolobeni, South Africa for strategic and research purposes. It illustrates how ‘good practice’ in participatory digital counter-mapping depends on sensitivity to power dynamics everywhere, and researchers’ ability to respond to local realities as they unfold on the ground. We highlight key success factors and challenges, and how they shape outcomes, as well as outputs, even as the mapping project continues to evolve. A key finding points to how - as with all transdisciplinary work- the prioritisation of community needs and interests (in contrast to focusing on outputs), produces unexpected benefits for researchers and communities alike. The paper concludes that participatory digital countermapping can serve as a powerful tool when mobilized to support indigenous knowledge, in a praxis of public political ecology, with the potential to make substantial contributions to the pursuit of epistemic and social/environmental justice.

Panel P52
Towards rethinking and decolonizing Africa's development futures: the place of indigenous knowledge
  Session 1 Thursday 29 June, 2023, -