Global environmental change is rapidly transforming the lives, livelihoods, and survival of individuals and communities in many parts of the world. Local knowledge is at the crux of this process. While the term originally referred to Indigenous or ‘traditional’ ways of knowing, we are interested in broadening the definition to encompass tacit knowledge embodied in life experiences and reproduced in everyday behaviour, movement and speech with an emphasis of including knowledge by any individual, Indigenous or not. Local knowledge is often romanticized, or depicted as static, timeless and hermetically sealed. Yet local knowledge is not a pot of gold waiting to be discovered, but instead is the effect of a history of encounters: between science and society, between residents and strangers, between stories new and old, between people and changing landscapes . Not all forms of local knowledge are compatible—with science or other local systems—nor are they all recognized as valid and useful; thus asking whose knowledge and which knowledge gets folded into the global environmental change agenda are inherently political questions. Our Local Knowledges Collaboratory participates with local organizations in creating local knowledges and examines its coproduction, mobilization, and applications in regimes of evidence in environmental governance and politics.
The Local Knowledges Collaboratory is an initiative of the Politics of Evidence Working Group (POE), a coalition of scholars, scientists, activists, and NGOs concerned with the uses, abuses, possibilities and limits of evidence. Collectively we are committed to examining how evidence, scientific and otherwise, is marshaled in politics, policy making, and everyday life.