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Stories in social-ecological knowledge cocreation

Diego Galafassi, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden
Tim M. Daw, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Matilda Thyresson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Sergio Rosendo, Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal; School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Tomas Chaigneau, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall, UK, TR10 9FE
Salomão Bandeira, Department of Biological Sciences, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, PO Box 257, Maputo, Mozambique
Lydiah Munyi, Independent Natural Resource Governance Consultant, P.O. Box 59782 (00200), Nairobi, Kenya.
Ida Gabrielsson, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Katrina Brown, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UK


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Transformations in social-ecological systems to overturn poverty and ecosystem degradation require approaches to knowledge synthesis that are inclusive and open to creative innovation. We draw on interviews with participants and in-depth process observation of an iterative knowledge cocreation process in Kenya and Mozambique that brought together scientists, community representatives, government representatives, and practitioners who had expertise or experience in poverty and/or coastal natural resource use and management. We analyze the communicative spaces opened by techniques of system diagrams and future scenarios, and provide a rich account of the emergent process of developing a “shared conceptual repertoire” as a basis for effective communication and knowledge synthesis. Our results highlight the difficulties of challenging dominant narratives and the creative potential that exists in reflecting on their underpinning assumptions. In our analysis, stories and lived experiences emerged as key means shaping the construction of shared concepts and ideas. We conclude by outlining the implications of designing knowledge cocreation processes that support the task of devising systemic interventions that are robust for a range of future scenarios. This includes embracing the role of stories in generating shared meanings and opening up spaces for exploration of knowledge assumptions that are embedded in intervention narratives.

Key words

action research; coproduction; learning; Kenya; Mozambique; participatory; transdisciplinarity; transformations

Copyright © 2018 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