Saturday, October 15, 2005

Emergent Maori Horticulture and Sustainable Development: A 'System of Provision' Analysis

Here's an abstract of a paper I'm presenting at the upcoming Maori and Indigenous Doctoral Conference, Onuku (27th-29th October).

The return of Maori land, the return of Maori to their land, and the return of Maori land to supplying a market economy, all occur in a context of innovations that are relevant to the sustainable development of this land. Sustainable development is fundamentally different from earlier forms of development in that mitigates environmental degradation and contributes to ecological resilience. This discourse is also cognisant of a sociological resilience that has expanded to incorporate aspects of cultural 'functioning'. Innovations will struggle against the forces of conservatism that interpret the continuation of traditional practices as integral to the 'proper' functioning of a culture.

But Maori have never excluded innovation from Post-contact strategic and tactical actions in promoting individual or group resilience. This practice has continued an accelerated with contemporary development from a realisation that sustainable development requires the successful adoption of innovative ideas, objects and activities. This can be described as contributing to Maori eco-cultural resilience, defined as Maori-specific development that links the management of ecosystems and social systems in ways that are specific to, and valued by, Maori. These systems incorporate actors that traverse networks that are global in extent. Sustainable Maori resource use is, therefore, reliant on the adoption of non-Maori innovations.

However, modern innovation involves the transfer of information and resources for political-economic ends that threaten the autonomy of participant eco-cultural institutions. Where these processes interpret 'culture' as merely an instrumental means to promote innovation, or as a component that enables product differentiation and added value, then that culture is threatened. This paper presents preliminary results of research that has examined the establishment of a new institution charged with protecting Maori cultural and ecological heritage while simultaneously engaging with non-Maori research, science and technology to supply niche markets leveraged of indigenous labeling. Within this 'System of Provision', Maori 'interrogate' innovations in an effort to embed a discourse of sustainability that is attuned to the needs of Maori eco-cultural resilience.

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Simon Lambert

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