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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2021

  • Title: Beyond Western Frameworks : Cultivating Reciprocity, Respect, Reverence, and Responsibility
  • Author: Faith L Blalock (Brown University)
  • Abstract:

    In a culture that prioritizes western ways of knowing over others, scientific practices become inaccurate and oppressive. In the context of ecology, an exclusively western framework results in scholarship that operates on and perpetuates the exploitation, genocide, and erasure of Indigenous land, people, and knowledge. The Nipmuc are the traditional stewards and inhabitants on the land currently called Harvard Forest. The Nipmuc were violently dispossessed of this land from settlers in 1722 and, until recently, Harvard has failed to acknowledge that violent history and the role they play in perpetuating displacement. This summer I looked at how Harvard Forest can conduct their work with, by, and for the Nipmuc instead of continuing to exclude and marginalize Indigenous people and knowledge. This project aimed to establish a collaborative relationship with the Nipmuc through building trust and collective futures. To frame our conversations with Nipmuc representatives, my research team reviewed various literature on authentic inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and community based participatory research. My research partner and I also conducted interviews with Indigenous people whose work engages with western science. The motivation for these interviews came out of my desire to map spaces and careers with practices and values that extend beyond settler frameworks. These interviews have been helpful in seeing how incorporating Indigenous knowledge forces us to form more holistic approaches to ecology and conservation. Hopefully, the knowledge we engaged with in relationship building, interviews, and literature shows all of us how to cultivate holistic practices rooted in reciprocity, respect, reverence, and responsibility instead of exclusively western frameworks.

  • Research Category: Biodiversity Studies; Conservation and Management; Group Projects; Historical and Retrospective Studies; Physiological Ecology, Population Dynamics, and Species Interactions; Regional Studies