Accepted Paper:

Anthropology in socio-ecological systems: from applied research to a new transdisciplinary form of knowledge  


Francesca Marin (UMR PALOC, IRD-MNHN)

Paper short abstract:

Grounded on diverse collaborations with biologists, the paper discusses the tendency to include anthropological knowledge mainly in the applied stages of the study of socio-ecological systems. It also shows how the reflexive prerogative of anthropology can adjust to other disciplines’ schedule.

Paper long abstract:

The paper is based on research conducted in contact and collaboration with different groups of biologists. It presents heterogeneous experiences of how anthropological knowledge is understood, employed and produced by natural scientists, who acknowledge the need to include "the social" into ecological systems.

Firstly, I present my experience as invited lecturer at "Linking human and natural dimensions to improve the study and conservation of socio-ecological systems" course, (CADIC, Ushuaia 2015). There, a bizarre connection was suggested between the ethical commitment of natural scientists and their attention for "the social".

Secondly, I consider the emphasis placed - by both natural and social researchers working in conservation and sustainable management - on applied research and the extremely punctual contributions expected from anthropology. I present it as a probable unintentional beginning of the reduction of anthropology to the role of applying tool of "scientific" knowledge.

Thirdly, through the case of the draft process of a protected area management plan, I explain the difficulties faced by biologists opening up to social sciences: from the definition of "data" to the incompatibility between the timing of anthropological knowledge production and the pressing request for exploitable information coming from political and administrative institutions. The example shows how biologists may engage to produce a new transdisciplinary form of knowledge.

Finally, I recount some unexpected interstices social and natural scientists can find in very busy research schedules to reflexively discuss delicate categories too often taken for granted: resource users, community interests and natural resources.

Panel P112
Interdisciplinary research and nature-society interactions