Accepted Paper:

Transdisciplinary research for sustainability: power relations and the production of knowledge  
Marinus Gebhardt Anja Katharina Salzer (Free University of Bolzano)Susanne Elsen (Free University of Bolzano)

Paper short abstract:

In transdisciplinary participatory research the question of power arises at various levels. At the example of a research project in the South Caucasus some of the methodological and practical challenges of joint knowledge production, with different stakeholders from research and practice, will b

Paper long abstract:

Challenges of global change such as loss of biodiversity and the resulting life-world problems at the local level are often highly complex and located at many different levels. Sustainability in terms of a future orientation is seen as a key in facing these challenges. As disciplinary analyzes quickly reach their limits research and practice for sustainability require comprehensive and integrated approaches (Jahn, 2001; Elsen, 2011; Schneidewind & Singer-Brodowsky, 2013).

The transdisciplinary project is working on the interrelation of local land-use practice with the sensitive biodiversity of alpine ecosystem in the Javakheti region in Georgia aiming to transform its findings into sustainable practice. As pasture systems can not be considered independently of their wider socio-economic context the research is taking into consideration sustainable regional development at large. In order to realise a participatory vision of sustainable local transformations, with respect to the co-construction of knowledge and empowerment of civil society actors, various participatory methods from anthropology and other fields are applied. Within the transdisciplinary research project the question of power and power relations arises at various levels, in particular with regard to the joint production of knowledge with a multitude of different stakeholders from research and practice.

The paper will provide insights into the ongoing empirical research process and critically discuss some challenges in terms of knowledge production, cooperation and integration that arise from transdisciplinary work on sustainable transition processes. This also implies a reflection of the role of anthropology, and an examination of the field of tensions between research and practice.

Panel P109
Collaborating in the field: participatory forms of anthropological research (re)examined