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Session Overview - All times EDT

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4.3.3: Colonialism, Localisation and Participation
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
2:30pm - 4:00pm

Session Chair: Nasya Razavi
Technical chair: Furqan Asif
Location: Room 3


The Social Side of Soils. A Farmer Centred Analysis on the Adoption of Cover Crops

Paige Allen, Ataharul Chowdhury

University of Guelph, Canada

The role of sustainable land management practices in the Canadian agriculture sector is a complex and evolving topic. Internationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reiterates the importance of adopting sustainable land management practices to avert degradation and aid productivity. Protecting soils has been identified as critical in Ontario’s Soil Health Strategy. Although there are a number of studies focused on larger social aspects associated with soil conservation available globally, there is limited Ontario focused research.

There exists a gap in rural and agricultural research related to cultural and social factors of agriculture. Despite there being studies conducted that examine farmer motivations related to adoption, the majority focus specifically on economic factors, from the perspective of adopters. Therefore, this research examines decision-making and support services accessed by grain farmers in Southern Ontario related to the adoption of cover crops. Using a comparative methodology, this research interviews both adopters and non-adopters.

The importance of co-produced knowledge, programs, and policies is something that continues to be examined in both the academic and policy spheres. The mobilization of knowledge through knowledge translation and transfer seeks to create actionable research, and transform the process of knowledge production and exchange into a collaborative process. This research seeks to add to this process by affording farmers the opportunity to express their reasoning for choosing to either incorporate or not incorporate the practice of cover crops. There are many programs and policies in Ontario that focus on increasing the use of best management practices, and struggle to identify and incorporate non-adopters. By speaking with farmers directly we can better understand their rational for non-involvement, such as lack of agricultural representation, inability to fit into current system, access to adequate resources, and addressing larger communication issues. Understanding farmers perspectives is the first step in developing inclusive agricultural policies.

Creativity and conflict in Panorama, Colombia: a social justice lens in adaptation to climate-change opens perspectives on community-led development

Steffen Lajoie1,2, Danielle Labbé1,2

1Université de Montréal, Canada; 2Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Urbanization in the Global South

This paper explores how practitioners in community-led adaptation and development can engage a justice agenda that entails facilitation, relationship building, and mediation. Building on research in the field of planning, community-led/based development, and political-ecology, it demonstrates how practitioners can dig past gatekeepers and externally defined solutions and identify the diversity of problematics, risks, and vulnerabilities faced by local communities.

This argument emerges from a case study of locally led urban adaptations in a marginalized neighborhood in Yumbo, Colombia. The study used direct and participant observation and a mix of in-depth online and in-person interviews with students, local leaders, and practitioners to identify socio-political spheres of change in Yumbo involving local and extra-local actors. This then supports an exploration of how national and international development practitioners mobilize knowledge and engage with local leaders, their priorities, projects, and styles.

The research reveals conflicting initiatives, addressing a myriad of risks and engaging in diverse strategies. Some are explicit and mobilize multiple actors; others mix legal and extra-legal strategies; and others still, are forced into the shadows of extra-legal power dynamics and profiteering. By following the different “adaptation styles” of local actors, this paper illuminates ways hierarchies of vulnerability compete with each other and how established leaders can outperform others to mobilize their interests, bringing positive change for some while negating others and reinforcing inequalities.

This paper contributes to the growing literature on community-led adaptation and a practice based on diversity and creativity that does not sugar-coat existing micro-conflicts. It questions the knowledge individual practitioners bring to the table and how they articulate their contributions with local knowledges, power-dynamics, and politics. Ultimately, I propose to move beyond one-off framing and cookie-cutter technology fixes and adopt instead approaches allowing knowledges and solutions to emerge and gain traction with local, regional, and international policy.

Using Decolonizing Geographies to Decolonize the Development Field Through Decolonizing Education and Indigenous Community Participation

Mandie Rose Yantha

University of Waterloo, Canada

The evolution of development theory creates and enforces unequal power dynamics and structures, disparities in inequality, dependency, and the colonial idea that the Western world has got it right and all others should follow. The development field continues to reply on colonial knowledge and practices that have evolved overtime and continue to play a significant role in research, decision making, and overall goals of development. Geography has had the ability to encompass new ways of knowing and has helped be a bridge between the various bodies of knowledge. Decolonizing geographies can provide concrete approaches to decolonizing research and ways of knowing that can be directly applied to the development field. Approaches and methods that include local and marginalized groups by reframing their identity, needs, and this knowledge can assist with empowering and increasing capacity for successful development programs now and into the future.

Navigating Tensions: Lessons from a participatory research project.

Judyannet Muchiri

Memorial University, Canada

As we, as a sector, move towards adopting a more anti-racist approach, actors are reorienting their projects and programming to include approaches that better engage the communities they serve. Such approaches are central to decolonizing development; however, they are not without challenges. Using primary data from a research project that examines the effects of safe spaces on young women’s civic participation in Kenya, this paper focuses on the challenges and tensions that development actors and researchers face when their work takes a feminist approach that centers marginalized groups, their lived experiences, and their knowledges. Using such tensions as learning moments, I also offer some practices that development actors and researchers can adopt to inform transformative engagement with marginalized groups in their work.