Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Zapotec Indigenous People in Mexico Demand Transparency from U.S. Scholar


The Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) - a longtime partner of Grassroots International based in Mexico - denounced a recently conducted study in the Zapotec region by U.S. geography scholar Peter Herlihy. Prof. Herlihy failed to mention that he received funding from the Foreign Military Studies Office of the U.S. Armed Forces. The failure to obtain full, free and prior informed consent is a violation of the rights of indigenous communities as codified in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the United Nations in 2007. In addition, UNOSJO fears that this in-depth geographical mapping of indigenous communities may be used in some harmful manner by the military.

The México Indígena project forms part of the Bowman Expeditions, a more extensive geographic research project backed and financed by the US Foreign Military Studies Ofice, among other institutions. The FMSO inputs information into a global database that forms an integral part of the Human Terrain System (HTS), a United States Army counterinsurgency strategy designed by FMSO and applied within indigenous communities, among others.

Since 2006 the Human Terrain System HTS has, since 2006, been employed with military purposes in both Afghanistan and Iraq and according to the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca, further Bowman Expeditions are underway in Mexico, the Antilles, Colombia and Jordan.


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Zoltan and Renee of the Indigenous Peoples' Specialty Group (a part of the Association of American Geographers) put this together. There's some excellent guidelines at the bottom on ethical approaches to working with Indigenous communities.

"After sitting and thinking on this for several days Zoltan and I are compelled to call upon the membership to forge a document/statement regarding the larger issues involved here. Many people have been affected/effected by the whirlwinds of controversy this has generated on many listservs. Those of you that responded to my initial email have posed some serious questions that no doubt should be answered.

However, the IPSG is not the authoritative body best suited to judge individuals' research projects. Institutional review processes are the fairest venues to address violations of research ethics while giving researchers a forum to defend their work. In focusing only on an individual geographer as such, we may not be changing the overall research process and instead limiting ourselves to an episodic, tit-for-tat conflict.

We feel that best way to go forward is not to focus only on this situation, but to rise above it and use it as a teaching and learning opportunity about the larger and lasting lessons of the controversy. We would like to inform as many geographers as possible that this situation is NOT NEW to Indigenous communities around the world. (In fact, similar controversies often happen with other academic researchers doing field research in politically marginalized communities.) We also would like to discuss the larger political/economic context of any research project--especially in volatile times and places--and point toward positive models of respectful cooperation between researchers and indigenous communities.

Zoltan and I are willing to work with anyone interested in writing a formal statement, and have drawn up the following notes to help begin a subcommittee's discussion:

1. Research ethics in indigenous geography
• Free Prior and Informed Consent (UN Declaration Article 11/2)
• Indigenous Methodologies (L. T. Smith)

2. Use of research
• Emphasis not on intentions but on effects of research
• Unintended consequences
• Data used by government forces or corporate interests against Indigenous
• Geopiracy
• Geoproperty—-privatization, “stability” concepts, etc.

3. Larger political/economic context
• Indigenous role in government change (Bolivia, Ecuador) and rebellions against globalization (Chiapas, Oaxaca, etc)
• Extreme government repression of indigenous (Colombia, Oaxaca, Peru)
• US military aid to government militaries, as US military studies indigenous
• Targeting of indigenous movements as against “democracy,” lumped with insurgent/terrorists in “war on terror”

4. Positive research models
• Approach communities with capabilities; but community determines research priorities
• Linda Smith—serving indigenous communities’ survivance
• NMAI report, "Guidelines for Research with Indigenous Peoples"
• AAAS Science and Human Rights—proactive, support indigenous
• Don’t avoid working with indigenous due to sensitivity; honest mistakes can be forgiven
• If you assume you’re a guest, you may be welcomed. If you assume you’ll be welcomed, you’re no longer a guest.
• Principles of Reciprocity
• Looking at hearts of researchers , not only minds.

Please let us know if you can help us put together this statement for our website prior to the Annual Meeting in Mar 22-27."

Zoltan and Renee,

Co-chairs, Indigenous Peoples' Specialty Group (IPSG)
of the Association of American Geographers (AAG)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Digital Theses

Kaitiakitanga: Māori values, uses and management of the coast
A Master's thesis from my old department at Canterbury that presents three case studies: the Kaikoura coastal environment, Akaroa taiapure and the foreshore / seabed debate to illuminate experiences of Maori relationships with the coastal environment. Insights from theories of place identity and environmental management, especially those with a postcolonial focus are used to map out the cultural politics in which indigenous resource management practices and experiences are related.

Marae: A Whakapapa of the Maori marae
A quite stunning collection of photographs make this thesis a worthy contribution. I met Adrian several times at UC and he says he has a large collection of pictures taken during the course of his fieldwork that he wishes to make available online.

Land, authority and the forgetting of being in early colonial Maori history
The thesis underscores the magnitude of change when tapu disappeared as the support of chiefs' civil governance, which was played out in the migration of mana (personal power) from chiefs to, modern, land. The disappearance of tapu also, however, aided the rise of Maori civil society within the colony on the basis of the desire for modernity which kept Maori engaged with the government - and therefore still governed. This is studied through letters that detail the operation of civil life in Taranaki and among Ngati Kahungunu, with special reference to the experience of Wiermu Kingi and Renata Kawepo.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wairau Bar

Remember the controversy over the repatriation of Rangitane koiwi from Canterbury museum that raged in the Press newspaper last year? Well following the resolution of this tug-of-war, excavation work is under way at an old burial site on the Wairau Bar in Marlborough as archaeologists also prepare to rebury ancient Maori bones. The site just outside Blenheim and considered one of the most important in New Zealand has not been deeply probed since the 1960s.Source for photo's: Carl Berenston...Liquid Sky Photography

Local iwi Rangitane refused to give consent for further archaeological work until its ancestors' bones removed by Canterbury Museum in the 1940s and 1950s were returned to the earth. A deal with the museum and Otago University last year paved the way for their reinterment, expected in April. Professor Helen Leach is based in Otago; her work has dealt extensively with Maori horticulture.

At the powhiri to welcome Otago University archaeologists, team leader Richard Walter said he was conscious the world would be watching.

"If I do anything wrong, my career is over," he said. "This is likely to be the last time any archaeologists work on this site ... and we have to get it right.

"We don't want to gather more material to put on museum shelves.

"We are here to get the tupuna back into the ground with the least possible damage to the site."

The 15 archaeologists will spend the next three weeks locating suitable places to rebury the bones, and gathering fresh information on the historical inhabitants. Rangitane chairwoman Judith MacDonald described the start of the dig as hugely significant.

"When we started this, we didn't see that there would be a need to have archaeologists. We didn't see that we should be having to meet other people's needs as part of the project. For us, we had a very simplistic view that our people had been taken unceremoniously out of the ground and taken away from their lands and that they should simply be returned and put back into the ground."

However, MacDonald said the iwi recognised the modern expertise of Otago University's archaeologists, and trusted their ability to return their tupuna without disturbing graves.

Walter said his team would focus on the different occupation layers at the site.

"One of the layers is a village site, so we want to be able to identify which layer it is, get very good radiocarbon dates from that layer and from that we will be able to match that information to the material that is in the Canterbury Museum."

Early excavation of the Wairau Bar provided the first direct link between New Zealand and the islands of East Polynesia. Bones from the site have been dated back over 700 years.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Physico-chemical and morphological characteristics of New Zealand Taewa (Maori potato) starches

The most common search terms that are coming up in the blog-counter are to do with Maori potatoes. Here's a paper, rather technical but interesting none-the-less, on the physico-chemical, morphological, thermal, pasting, textural, and retrogradation properties of the starches of Karuparera, Tutaekuri, Huakaroro, Moemoe were studied and compared with starch properties of a modem potato cultivar (Nadine). There are also a lot of searches for kamo kamo (and from around the globe...homesick Maori?!). I chose not to grow an kamo kamo this season, they take up a heck of a lot of space and I've reduced the total size of my vege plot anyway (the boys need more space to run like the wild things they are).

Anyway, I offer these two pictures of succulent kamo kamo.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Krazy Kelvin - NZ Maori Blog


Just have to add this link in, a recipe for Maori Potato, Bacon and Watercress Salad Krazy Kelvin - NZ Maori Blog complete with outrageous photograph of a blonde cuddling some watercress...

Here are some even flasher recipes from Kinaki Herbs.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Kauri Rot

This just through from Chuckie van Schravendijk, ex-Lincoln and UC grad now working for Tainui. Although only identified in April of last year (i.e., 2008). Phytophthora taxon Agathis (PTA), poses a significant threat to Kauri. PTA is a microscopic funguslike plant pathogen that only affects kauri. Recent research has identified PTA as a distinct and previously undescribed species of Phytophthora.



The symptoms? Yellowing of foliage, loss of leaves, canopy thinning and dead branches. Affected trees can also develop lesions that bleed resin, extending to the major roots and sometimes girdling the trunk as a “collar rot”. PTA can kill trees and seedlings of all ages.PTA has been found at Huia and Maungaroa Ridge in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and at Department of Conservation reserves at Great Barrier and Trounson Kauri Park in Northland.

Question: Is there a need for a specific Maori response, by which I mean do we as Maori need to coordinate a response in spite of any government attempts to understand
this disease? Do we trust MAF and others to do the job ... think Rock Snot and Varroa, neither of which can be considered exemplars of biosecurity success. The Kauri is one of those fellow denizens of te ao Maori that enable the reflection of ourselves.
Simon Lambert

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