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Mistry J.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Berardi A.,Open University Milton Keynes | Tschirhart C.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Bignante E.,University of Turin | And 7 more authors.
Cultural Geographies | Year: 2015

In an era of increasing access to digital technologies, Indigenous communities are progressively more able to present sophisticated and differentiated narratives in order to maximise their long-term survival. In this article, we explore how Indigenous communities use participatory video and participatory photography as tools of Indigenous media to enhance, adapt and/or reinforce their collective social memory. This social memory is key for identity formation and self-representation, and the ways in which Indigenous representations are performed promote particular interests and worldviews to the local, national and global scales. Working with the Makushi and Wapishana communities of the North Rupununi, Guyana, the current social memory ‘in use’ was surfaced through the participatory video and photography process led by the Indigenous community. Through an iterative process of analysing images (photos and video clips) and text (written material, narration and spoken word), we identified key narratives of the communities’ social memory. We show how communities provide different messages to different actors through the way they use participatory video and participatory photography, revealing how self-conscious multiple identities shape differing purposes. We suggest that our ability, as non-Indigenous stakeholders, to perceive, appreciate and act upon these more complex and nuanced narratives is critical to help address environmental governance in a rapidly changing social–ecological context. © 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


Berardi A.,Open University Milton Keynes | Mistry J.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Tschirhart C.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Bignante E.,University of Turin | And 7 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2015

Linking and analyzing governance of natural resources at different scales requires the development of a conceptual framework for analyzing social-ecological systems that can be easily applied by a range of stakeholders whose interests lie at different scales, but where the results of the analysis can be compared in a straightforward way. We outline the system viability framework, which allows participants to characterize a range of strategies in response to environment challenges for maintaining the long-term survival of their particular system of interest. Working in the Guiana Shield, South America, and with a range of local, regional, and international stakeholders, our aim was to use system viability to (1) investigate synergies and conflicts between distinct scales of governance, (2) identify scale-related challenges, and (3) test the framework as a conceptual tool for supporting cross-scalar analysis for environmental governance. At the international and national levels, a number of civil society organizations explored system viability indicators that would measure the successful implementation of governance mechanisms relevant to sustainable development and natural resource management. At the local level, we used participatory video and photography within two indigenous territories to enable local participants to identify indicators of viability within community governance systems. A grounded theory approach was then used to identify common themes across the different scales of analysis. Five key themes emerged: land rights, leadership, partnerships, lifestyle, and identity. We found that although most categories of interest were theoretically aligned across scales, all perceived systems of interest were struggling to face up to various cross-scalar challenges undermining different system viability responses. In conclusion, we highlight how the system viability framework can be used with a disparate variety of stakeholders as a practical, participative and “big-picture” approach for facilitating the integrated governance of nested local and regional social-ecological systems. © 2015 by the author(s).


Tschirhart C.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Mistry J.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Berardi A.,Open University Milton Keynes | Bignante E.,University of Turin | And 10 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2016

There is increasing advocacy for inclusive community-based approaches to environmental management, and growing evidence that involving communities improves the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Most community-based approaches rely on partnerships and knowledge exchange between communities, civil society organizations, and professionals such as practitioners and/or scientists. However, few models have actively integrated more horizontal knowledge exchange from community to community. We reflect on the transferability of community owned solutions between indigenous communities by exploring challenges and achievements of community peer-to-peer knowledge exchange as a way of empowering communities to face up to local environmental and social challenges. Using participatory visual methods, indigenous communities of the North Rupununi (Guyana) identified and documented their community owned solutions through films and photostories. Indigenous researchers from this community then shared their solutions with six other communities that faced similar challenges within Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Colombia, French Guiana, and Brazil. They were supported by in-country civil society organizations and academics. We analyzed the impact of the knowledge exchange through interviews, field reports, and observations. Our results show that indigenous community members were significantly more receptive to solutions emerging from, and communicated by, other indigenous peoples, and that this approach was a significant motivating force for galvanizing communities to make changes in their community. We identified a range of enabling factors, such as building capacity for a shared conceptual and technical understanding, that strengthens the exchange between communities and contributes to a lasting impact. With national and international policy-makers mobilizing significant financial resources for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation, we argue that the promotion of community owned solutions through community peer-to-peer exchange may deliver more long-lasting, socially and ecologically integrated, and investment-effective strategies compared to top-down, expert led, and/or foreign-led initiatives. © 2016 by the author(s).


Mistry J.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Berardi A.,Open University Milton Keynes | Tschirhart C.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Bignante E.,University of Turin | And 8 more authors.
Ecology and Society | Year: 2016

Policies and actions that come from higher scale structures, such as international bodies and national governments, are not always compatible with the realities and perspectives of smaller scale units including indigenous communities. Yet, it is at this local social-ecological scale that mechanisms and solutions for dealing with unpredictability and change can be increasingly seen emerging from across the world. Although there is a large body of knowledge specifying the conditions necessary to promote local governance of natural resources, there is a parallel need to develop practical methods for operationalizing the evaluation of local social-ecological systems. In this paper, we report on a systemic, participatory, and visual approach for engaging local communities in an exploration of their own social-ecological system. Working with indigenous communities of the North Rupununi, Guyana, this involved using participatory video and photography within a system viability framework to enable local participants to analyze their own situation by defining indicators of successful strategies that were meaningful to them. Participatory multicriteria analysis was then used to arrive at a short list of best practice strategies. We present six best practices and show how they are intimately linked through the themes of indigenous knowledge, local governance and values, and partnerships and networks. We highlight how developing shared narratives of community owned solutions can help communities to plan governance and management of land and resource systems, while reinforcing sustainable practices by discussing and showcasing them within communities, and by engendering a sense of pride in local solutions. © 2016 by the author(s).


Mistry J.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Tschirhart C.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Verwer C.,IUCN National Committee of The Netherlands IUCN NL | Glastra R.,IUCN National Committee of The Netherlands IUCN NL | And 8 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2014

Scenarios help build a shared understanding of potential futures and allow us to engage with how interventions or activities may impact on people and the environment. There are many scenario sets that have been developed at the global and regional level, but to a lesser extent at the national and local levels. Yet fewer studies have explicitly linked imagined futures at different social-ecological scales. In this paper, we discuss how scenario analysis was used with indigenous communities and national level stakeholders in Guyana, South America, to explore context specific futures in relation to linked social-ecological systems. These futures were then analysed against published regional (Amazonian) and international scenarios using a qualitative coding approach and supported by quantitative factorial analysis. This allowed us to develop a matrix of multi-scalar scenarios, showing how scenarios at all scales interact. From this, we were able to identify virtuous and vicious cycles amongst the different scales where developments produced feedbacks to make situations worse, better or counteract change at other levels. Our results show that there is considerable mismatch between the different scales of analysis, with the national scale playing a key role as mediator. In addition, we highlight the importance of focusing on the root causes shaping futures as well as participatory forms of scenario development in order to provide better policy and decision support, and stimulate engagement at all levels of organisation in the process of change. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

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