Tuesday 6
Traditional knowledge and resilience thinking
Juliana Merçon, Evodia Silva-Rivera
› 11:35 - 12:30 (55min)
› Rondelet
Indigenous wisdom and the science of resilience. Complementarities between the Andean ‘living well' (buen vivir) paradigm and resilience thinking.
Juliana Merçon  1@  
1 : University of Veracruz  (UV)  -  Website
Universidad Veracruzana Instituto de Investigaciones en Educación Educación para la Sustentabilidad Cll Diego Leño 8, Centro Xalapa, Veracruz C.P. 91000 - México -  Mexique

The active participation of indigenous movements in the political arena (particularly in the struggle for a more egalitarian control and use of natural resources) and the subsequent rise of alternative institutional powers in Bolivia and Ecuador were key conditions for the emergence of public discussions in the region around the meanings of “living well” (buen vivir in Spanish, Suma Qamaña in Aymara, and Sumak Kawsay in Quechua). In spite of its polysemic nature, this traditional notion has gained relevance in the juridical realm through its incorporation to the new Ecuadorian Constitution in 2008, and the Bolivian Constitution in 2009. More recently, it was made central through the Ecuadorian “National Living Well Plan” (2009-2013). In this presentation I argue that some of the principles standing at the basis of the traditional Andean ethical notion of “living well” are shared by the scientific framework of resilience, despite differences in their epistemological approach, terminology and forms of application. In brief, some of these main affinities are: 1. Both perspectives question the dichotomy between nature and society, and state that they constitute one and the same system; 2. The focus on development, progress or linear growth is shifted to the complex dynamics of adaptation and change that sustain socio-ecological processes and well being; 3. Knowledge and practices are contextualised and understood in their connection with particular biophysical and sociocultural territories; 4. Both biological and cultural diversity are valued for its potential to regenerate and reorganise socio-ecological systems after crises; 5. The capacity of building and integrating different forms of knowledge (traditional, local, academic) is crucial to generate more complex and effective understandings of the socio-ecological reality. In association with the interfaces described above, I argue that the Andean ethical view encounters challenges and opportunities to which resilience thinking can make a positive contribution. In a similar fashion, I also believe that the scientific approach on resilience can be enriched by the “living well” paradigm. It could be noted, for example, that the notion of “living well” has permeated the South American public domain as a form of discourse more than as a set of methods or practical experiences. Given its general appeal, it is prone to being rhetorically (ab)used by political groups and co-opted by dominant interests. Its effectiveness as an alternative to social and environmental degradation would thus benefit from empirical applications and analysis that could provide concrete examples of how to translate ethical principles into socio-ecological processes. In this sense, the resilience framework could provide theoretical and methodological tools for studies that interconnect ethical views and concrete experiences. Conversely, the emphasis on intercultural dialogue, decolonial epistemologies and participatory processes promoted by the “living well” perspective can enlarge resilience scholars' scope of consideration and bring the necessary connection between epistemology, ethics and politics to the fore.

Note: If accepted, this presentation should be included in the session 'Traditional knowledge and resilience thinking'

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