Can Environmental Knowledge That Reaffirms Sustainable Livelihoods be Maintained?

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Carla Patricia GALAN-GUEVARA, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico
The dominant economic system has generated important and complex environmental and social problems, in hand with a transformation of worldviews. In many diverse places, different ways of conceiving and acting in the world have been lost, where a more harmonic relationship with nature and social life prevailed, alongside the loosing of associated knowledge and the ways in which it had been reproduced and transmitted. Traditional communities with a strong communal and socio-natural livelihood basis, as the indigenous community of Santa Fe de la Laguna (Mexico), have been and are still exposed to the influences that put at risk their sustainable livelihoods and associated social relationships, environment and knowledge, which respond to a conception of wellbeing based on an inseparable link between nature and culture.

Acknowledging the presence of livelihoods where meanings of life and wellbeing connect to natural times and processes, and that these permeate and constitute a whole cultural, social, economic and spiritual universe, this paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the complex relationships between the livelihoods of the community of Santa Fe de la Laguna and their environmental knowledge construction, reproduction and transmission processes. The focus of study is the community’s livelihoods as a complex totality, which includes everything that provides continuity and meaning of life in the community (Baumgartner & Rist, 2011). Environmental knowledge, in this context, is present in all their life representations and socio-economic modes of organization, which in turn are inextricably linked. Comprehending the processes of their environmental knowledge construction and reproduction, could link to understanding ways of maintaining valued sustainable livelihoods. Recognising the influences and processes that could change or are changing their environmental knowledge and sustainable livelihood systems, may prove to be a valuable input in a process of collective critical reflection in the community towards a sustainable future.