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Enriching indigenous knowledge scholarship via collaborative methodologies: beyond the high tide’s few hours

Julie Velasquez Runk, University of Georgia; Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute


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Over the last 20 yr, anthropologists have demonstrated an increasing interest in collaborative and decolonizing methodologies. Despite this trend, there are relatively few works that illustrate how research collaborations have affected scholarship. In this paper, I demonstrate how the use of collaborative methodologies has allowed me to better understand indigenous knowledge of Wounaan in eastern Panama. In particular, I examine the use of three different aspects of collaboration—codesigning research, coanalyzing results, and coauthorship—with local experts, leaders, and communities over 17 yr and how they have enriched my research on ethnoecology, political ecology, and linguistic anthropology. I also address how this solitary reflection has underscored the importance of process and multivocality in collaboration. The results illustrate how collaborative methodologies may engage different aspects of indigenous practice than participant observation, and how both methods mutually reinforce enhanced understanding of indigenous knowledge and the production of science.

Key words

collaboration; Emberá; indigenous knowledge; Panama; science and technology studies; Wounaan

Copyright © 2014 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087