Mismatch Between Scales of Knowledge in Nepalese Forestry: Epistemology, Power, and Policy Implications
Helene Ahlborg, Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology
Andrea J. Nightingale, Institute of Geography and the Lived Environment, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh; School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburgh
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The importance of scale dynamics and scale mismatches for outcomes of natural resource management has been widely discussed. In this article we develop theoretically the concept of ‘knowledge scales’ and illustrate it through empirical examples. We define scales of knowledge as the temporal and spatial extent and character of knowledge held by individuals and collectives, and argue that disparate scales of knowledge are an important ‘scale mismatch,’ which together with scale politics, lead to conflicts in Nepalese forest management. We reveal how there are multiple positions within local knowledge systems and how these positions emerge through people’s use of and relations to the forest, in a dynamic interaction between the natural environment and relations of power such as gender, literacy, and caste. Nepalese forestry is a realm in which power and scales of knowledge are being coproduced in community forestry, at the interface of material and symbolic practices in use of forest resources, and in contestations of social-political relations. Further, we reflect upon the importance of clear and precise use of scale concepts and present a methodological approach using triangulation for divergence, enabling researchers and practitioners involved in natural resource management to reveal scale mismatches and politics.
community forestry; knowledge scales; natural resource management; Nepal; power; scale