Local knowledge in a changing climate: the experimental politics of coproduction
Nicole Klenk (University of Toronto)
Katie Meehan (University of Oregon)
Thursday 1 September, 11:00-12:45, 12:30-14:15 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Climate change has raised the stakes for the inclusion of local knowledge in science and policy. In this track we explore the generation and use of local knowledge, with a focus on experiments in democratic knowledge coproduction and implications for organizing effective publics and institutions.

Long abstract:

Climate change is rapidly transforming the lives, livelihoods, and survival of individuals and communities in many parts of the world. Local knowledge is at the crux of this process. While the term originally referred to indigenous or 'traditional' ways of knowing, in this session we broaden the definition to "tacit knowledge embodied in life experiences and reproduced in everyday behavior and speech" with an emphasis of including knowledge by any individual, indigenous or not (Cruikshank, 2005: 19; Turnbull, 1998). Local knowledge is often romanticized, or depicted as "static, timeless and hermetically sealed" (Cruikshank, 2005: 10). Yet local knowledge is not a pot of gold waiting to be discovered, but instead is the effect of a history of encounters: between science and society, between residents and strangers, between stories new and old, between people and changing landscapes (Shepherd, 2010). Not all forms of local knowledge are compatible—with science or other local systems—nor are they all recognized as valid and useful; thus asking whose knowledge and which knowledge gets folded into the adaptation agenda are inherently political questions (Klenk and Meehan, 2015). The session draws on the 'experimental turn' in the environmental social sciences and humanities to explore how local knowledge is produced under experimental conditions and the implications of these 'leaps into the unknown' for the organization of effective publics and institutions. We pry open the black box of local knowledge to examine its coproduction, mobilization, and applications in the fields of climate change adaptation and environmental politics.