Friday, June 13, 2014

Citizen Science: How do Maori engage?

The latest development in science is the concept of 'CitizenScience' whereby citizens are empowered to engage with science (I think we should generalise this to 'research') and scientists through various engagement methods, governance roles, technology diffusion and tuned research approaches. The intent is to mobilise community participation and responses to research.

Nice, tautoko.

Of course we must remain skeptical given past experiences of Indigenous Peoples and science. I like the description by Collins and Evans of the Third Wave of science whereby the domain of science elites is pierced by non-certified experts (for example, kaitiaki):

Too often we default to a monolithic 'Western' science, represented by Wave One. This frames much of what Linda Smith described in her well-known 'Decolonising Methodologies'. Wave Two sees greater transparency as the electorate/tax-payer demands more responsibility from these high priests of knowledge...

Now we see citizens invited into the tent. Scientific American ran this special issue...
The advances in technology, such as mobile phone apps, are enabling citizens (including kids) to gather, analyse and distribute information...

At Lincoln we are determined to be a part of this. With several of us experiencing the tortuous National Science Challenges processes (which are ongoing), we see more opportunities for Maori to engage in relevant research, determining at least some of the projects and outputs. 

However it remains a difficult task for individuals and collectives.

As an example from the work on disasters I've been doing since, well, the disaster in Christchurch, interprets the role of Matauranga Maori as important for some hazards and some landscapes, but argues this knowledge is fragmented and its relevance often questionable. Indeed the notion that Indigenous Knowledge such as Mātauranga Maori and its (problematic) integration with science can somehow build resilience ‘invites a fundamental question that must be continually revisited’ (Bohensky and Maru, 2011):
  • Which systems are these integration processes building the resilience of, for whom, and on which scales in time and space? 
  • What Maori institutions and practices enable the rapid and accurate assessment of the location, movement, and needs of Maori individuals, whānau, and communities? 
  • How do contemporary manifestations of Maori community translate into tangible support networks in locations of known and future environmental hazards; through periods of environmental stress including long-term climate change; and through the dislocation and disruption evident in post-disaster landscapes including built environments?

My colleague Jamie Ataria has provided this translation of Citizen Science for us: Rangahau Taiao - Ma te Hapori, Ki te Hapori, E te Hapori. Interesting times e hoa ma...

Bohensky, E. L., & Maru, Y. (2011). Indigenous Knowledge, Science, and Resilience: What Have We                   Learned from a Decade of International Literature on “Integration”? Ecology and Society, 16(4).

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