4 d’ag. 2011

El pes que portem a l'esquena (IV)

Unlike Martí, I am not from the countryside, and neither is my family. I felt nostalgia for a world which I had only guessed at when seeing old photographs from the town or walking around the old fields and farmhouses in Sant Llorenç del Munt mountains. I also had the feeling that threatening wildfires occurred precisely because the rural world was not anymore 'The World'. I wanted to understand such a dramatic transformation. I was very much attracted by the experiences and languages of the eldest of the town, but I wondered how to include them in my research without being disrespectful to them or misunderstanding their thoughts, shaped in a completely different social-ecological and mental setting than mine’s. Moreover, given the intangible and vanishing nature of local rural knowledge in an urbanizing metropolis, I wondered not only how to capture it but how to include it in an academic work without reducing it to numbers. What was I expecting to get from this knowledge? Or rather the question should be: What was I expecting to get from the knowledge carriers?

I also found particularly tempting and challenging to build an integrated approach in the study of land change drawing on different disciplines from the social and the natural sciences to achieve a holistic view while at the same time keeping the rigor required in academy. When I attended meetings gathering scientists, land managers and policy makers, I realized that they were talking to each other in different languages, regardless of the scale and the scope of the meeting. In scientific conferences on sustainability or conservation most of the participants complained about the difficulty of producing politically relevant scientific research. For me, this was another cause for concern, especially at the local level. I had the necessity to know if action-oriented research practices stemming from real world conflicts could contribute to solve this gap and to lead the social-ecological system towards a more desired and resilient state in terms of ecosystem services and human well-being.

What follows is just one attempt out of the many other possible paths hidden out there.

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