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E&S Home > Vol. 20, Iss. 1 > Art. 45 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Understanding adaptation and transformation through indigenous practice: the case of the Guna of Panama

Marina J Apgar, Policy, Economic and Social Sciences, WorldFish Center
Will Allen, Learning for Sustainability
Kevin Moore, Faculty of Environment, Society and Design, Lincoln University
James Ataria, Te Matapuna, Kaupapa Maori Unit, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07314-200145

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Abstract

Resilience is emerging as a promising vehicle for improving management of social-ecological systems that can potentially lead to more sustainable arrangements between environmental and social spheres. Central to an understanding of how to support resilience is the need to understand social change and its links with adaptation and transformation. Our aim is to contribute to insights about and understanding of underlying social dynamics at play in social-ecological systems. We argue that longstanding indigenous practices provide opportunities for investigating processes of adaptation and transformation. We use in-depth analysis of adaptation and transformation through engagement in participatory action research, focusing on the role of cultural and social practices among the Guna indigenous peoples in Panama. Our findings reveal that cultural practices facilitating leadership development, personhood development, and social networking are critical for enabling both adaptation and transformation. Further, we argue that Guna ritual practice builds additional skills, such as critical self-reflection and creative innovation, that are important for supporting the deeper changes required by transformation.

Key words

adaptation; cultural practice; Guna; reflection; resilience; ritual; participatory action research; transformation

Copyright © 2015 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087