Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 22, Iss. 2 > Art. 4 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Creative convergence: exploring biocultural diversity through art

Jean L. Polfus, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Deborah Simmons, Ɂehdzo Got'ı̨nę Gots'ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), Tulı́t'a, Northwest Territories, Canada; Aboriginal Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Michael Neyelle, Délı̨nę Ɂehdzo Got'ı̨nę (Renewable Resource Council), Délı̨nę, Northwest Territories, Canada; Ɂehdzo Got'ı̨nę Gots'ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), Tulı́t'a, Northwest Territories, Canada
Walter Bayha, Délı̨nę Gotine Government, Délı̨nę, Northwest Territories, Canada
Frederick Andrew, Ɂehdzo Got'ı̨nę Gots'ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), Tulı́t'a, Northwest Territories, Canada
Leon Andrew, Ɂehdzo Got'ı̨nę Gots'ę́ Nákedı (Sahtú Renewable Resources Board), Tulı́t'a, Northwest Territories, Canada
Bethann G. Merkle, Creative Writing Program, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
Keren Rice, Department of Linguistics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Micheline Manseau, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Office of the Chief Ecosystem Scientist, Parks Canada, Gatineau, Québec, Canada

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08711-220204

Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Abstract

Interdisciplinary approaches are necessary for exploring the complex research questions that stem from interdependence in social-ecological systems. For example, the concept of biocultural diversity, which highlights the interactions between human diversity and the diversity of biological systems, bridges multiple knowledge systems and disciplines and can reveal historical, existing, and emergent patterns of variation that are essential to ecosystem dynamics. Identifying biocultural diversity requires a flexible, creative, and collaborative approach to research. We demonstrate how visual art can be used in combination with scientific and social science methods to examine the biocultural landscape of the Sahtú region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Specifically, we focus on the intersection of Dene cultural diversity and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) intraspecific variation. We developed original illustrations, diagrams, and other visual aids to increase the effectiveness of communication, improve the organization of research results, and promote intellectual creativity. For example, we used scientific visualization and drawings to explain complex genetic data and clarify research priorities. Visual facilitation during meetings helped establish accurate representations of both cultural and biological diversity by externalizing heterogeneity and avoiding standardization. Group mind mapping enhanced collaborators’ ability to visualize connections between Dene concepts, like bets'erı̨hchá “respect” and caribou, and to recognize differences between knowledge systems that challenge translations and reduce the effectiveness of research outcomes. Collaborative visual products, like posters that represented different caribou types, allowed Dene partners to more clearly articulate subtleties within caribou intraspecific variation that are manifest through distinct dialects, place-based relationships, and cultural practices. Our results point to the potential for visual art to be used to improve communication, participation, and knowledge production in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research collaborations and to enhance the sustainable stewardship and protection of biodiversity.

Key words

art; biocultural diversity; biodiversity, bridging knowledge systems; caribou; collaborative research; interdisciplinary; social-ecological systems, subarctic; traditional knowledge; visual communication; visual facilitation; visual methods

Copyright © 2017 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.

Top
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087