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Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Ethics and Biofuel Production in Chile


Román-Figueroa, Celián, and Manuel Paneque. 2015. “Ethics and Biofuel Production in Chile.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (2): 293-312.

Authors: Celián Román-Figueroa, Manuel Paneque


Chile needs to diversify its energy supply, and should establish policies that encourage the production and use of biofuels. The demand for energy resources increases with population growth and industrial development, making it urgent to find green alternatives to minimize the impacts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of traditional fuels. However, it is required that sophisticated strategies consider all externalities from the production of biofuels and should be established on the basis of protecting the environment, reducing GHG emissions and to avoid violating human rights. This article presents the Chilean reality, based on ethical principles that should be guarded to regulate the bioenergy market. These principles are: (1) human rights, (2) environmental sustainability, (3) climate change mitigation, (4) right to a fair reward, and (5) equitable distribution. It is concluded that in Chile the concentration of land and water for the development of extractive industries; and for agricultural and forestry purposes, contradicts the principle of human rights. The unequal distribution of income is also highlighted as part of a cycle of social injustice, with a high Gini coefficient (0.52). However, the policy of biofuels can be strengthened with the early use of second generation feedstock, the introduction of fair trade and regulation by the state to encourage participation of small farmers, and allows a position for Chile at the forefront of bioenergy production.

Keywords: bioenergy, biofuel ethics, ethanol, biodiesel

Topics: Agriculture, Conflict, Resource Conflict, Environment, Climate Change, Extractive Industries, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Land Tenure, Rights, Human Rights Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Chile

Year: 2015

"Para el Bien Común" Indigenous Women's Environmental Activism and Community Care Work in Guatemala


Hallum-Montes, Rachel. 2012. “‘Para El Bien Común’ Indigenous Women’s Environmental Activism and Community Care Work in Guatemala.” Race, Gender & Class 19 (1/2): 104–30.

Author: Rachel Hallum-Montes


This article adopts an "eco-intersectional" perspective to examine the motivations and strategies that guide indigenous women's environmental activism in Guatemala. A total of 33 indigenous Kaqchikel women who work with a transnational environmental organization were interviewed in 2006 and 2009. The interviews reveal that gender, race, and class figured prominently in women's decisions to become environmental activists. Women mobilized around their identities as mothers and caregivers, and viewed their environmental activism as a way of caring for both their families and the indigenous community. Women also linked their local activism to larger social movements—including the indigenous, women's, and environmental movements. The article concludes by discussing recommendations for academic, activist, and policy work.

Keywords: gender, indigenous, environment, Guatemala, ecofeminism

Topics: Economies, Care Economies, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Race Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2012

Tracing the Ecological Footprints of our Foremothers: Towards an African Feminist Approach to Women’s Connectedness with Nature


Siwila, Lilian Cheelo. 2014. “Tracing the Ecological Footprints of our Foremothers: Towards an African Feminist Approach to Women’s Connectedness with Nature.” Studie Historiae Ecclesiasticae 40 (2): 131-147.


Author: Lilian Cheelo Siwila


Throughout church history, the subject of ecology has assumed prominence in church circles with resolutions constantly being reached on how the church can and has responded to the ecological crisis. For example, the early church fathers' experiences of connectedness to nature created another approach to the Christian concept of ecology of that time. A feminist approach to ecology shows that there has been a good amount of research on the subject matter, especially from an interventional perspective. Despite this positive response, this article argues that if ecofeminism is to be effective in responding to issues of ecology, discourses around African women's embedded ecological spiritualties need to be retrieved and transformed for the liberation of both women and nature. The article uses ecomatemalistic theory to argue for a need to promote the conceptualisation of the interconnectedness between women and nature. The article concludes by showing that discussions on ecofeminism can take different forms in different contexts. Thus in some African contexts this dualistic approach between women and nature also carries positive aspects that need to be identified as a tool for dialogue on African ecofeminism.

Topics: Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Women, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Religion Regions: Africa

Year: 2014

A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives


Lewis, Diana, Lewis Williams, and Rhys Jones. 2020. “A Radical Revision of the Public Health Response to Environmental Crisis in a Warming World: Contributions of Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Feminist Perspectives.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 111 (6): 897–900.

Authors: Diana Lewis, Lewis Williams, Rhys Jones


Indigenous peoples have long been successful at adapting to climatic and environmental changes. However, anthropogenic climatic crisis represents an epoch of intensified colonialism which poses particular challenges to Indigenous peoples throughout the world, including those in wealthier ‘modern’ nation states. Indigenous peoples also possess worldviews and traditional knowledge systems that are critical to climate mitigation and adaptation, yet, paradoxically, these are devalued and marginalized and have yet to be recognized as essential foundations of public health. In this article, we provide an overview of how public health policy and discourse fails Indigenous peoples living in the colonial nation states of Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand. We argue that addressing these systemic failures requires the incorporation of Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives beyond superficial understandings in public health-related climate change policy and practice, and that systems transformation of this nature will in turn require a radical revision of settler understandings of the determinants of health. Further, public health climate change responses that centre Indigenous knowledges and Indigenous feminist perspectives as presented by Indigenous peoples themselves must underpin from local to global levels.
Les peuples autochtones ont de tout temps réussi à s’adapter aux changements du climat et de leur environnement. La crise climatique anthropogène constitue toutefois une époque de colonialisme intensifié qui pose des difficultés particulières aux peuples autochtones du monde entier, y compris ceux des États-nations riches et « modernes ». Les peuples autochtones possèdent aussi des visions du monde et des systèmes de savoir traditionnels indispensables aux efforts d’atténuation et d’adaptation au changement climatique; paradoxalement, ces visions et systèmes sont dévalués et marginalisés et ne sont pas encore reconnus comme étant des bases essentielles de la santé publique. Dans cet article, nous expliquons en général en quoi les politiques et le discours de la santé publique laissent sur le carreau les peuples autochtones vivant dans les États-nations coloniaux du Canada et d’Aotearoa (la Nouvelle-Zélande). Nous faisons valoir que pour aborder ces échecs systémiques, il faut intégrer les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones au-delà d’une compréhension superficielle des politiques et des pratiques de santé publique relatives au changement climatique, et qu’une telle transformation des systèmes exigera en retour une révision radicale des savoirs coloniaux sur les déterminants de la santé. Plus encore, les ripostes de la santé publique au changement climatique, que ce soit à l’échelle locale ou mondiale, doivent être centrées sur les savoirs autochtones et les perspectives féministes autochtones tels que présentés par les peuples autochtones eux-mêmes.

Keywords: public health, climate change, indigenous, competencies, feminist, santé publique, changement climatique, autochtones, compétences, féminisme

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Health, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, Oceania Countries: Canada, New Zealand

Year: 2020

Toward a Feminist Care Ethic for Climate Change


Allison, Elizabeth. 2017. “Toward a Feminist Care Ethic for Climate Change.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 33 (2): 152 -8. 

Author: Elizabeth Allison

Keywords: adaptation, climate care, climate ethics, feminist care ethics, indigenous knowledge


“Climate change adaptation studies often highlight the specific vulnerabilities of women, particularly those living in developing countries. Among the particular burdens falling more heavily on women are poverty; residence on marginal land susceptible to subsidence, erosion, or flooding; precarious and informal employment; increasing exposure to waterborne and vector-borne disease. Drought requires female water collectors to walk farther with each passing year, during which journeys they can be subject to harassment and abuse and must forego school, employment, and other sorts of productive activities. Attention to these considerations pertaining to women’s specific vulnerabilities is essential in mapping pathways to address climate change. These considerations are intensified when we consider women’s disproportionate caring responsibilities for children and the elderly. Ensuring that women and girls have expansive opportunities to express their full capacities will become more difficult in a climate-destabilized world. Because of these disproportionate vulnerabilities, climate change is indisputably a feminist issue, and the tools of feminist analysis can provide valuable leverage in developing just and equitable responses to this existential challenge” (Allison 2017, 152).

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems

Year: 2017

Lost and Found Crops: Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and a Feminist Political Ecology of Sorghum and Finger Millet in Northern Malawi


Kerr, Rachel Bezner. 2011. “Lost and Found Crops: Agrobiodiversity, Indigenous Knowledge, and a Feminist Political Ecology of Sorghum and Finger Millet in Northern Malawi.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104 (3): 577-93.

Author: Rachel Bezner Kerr


This article tells the story of two indigenous, drought-tolerant grains, finger millet and sorghum, once grown in northern Malawi. Sorghum essentially disappeared from the landscape, replaced by maize. Finger millet persisted, despite being discouraged by colonial and postcolonial governments, but is now in decline. This case study of these two crops in northern Malawi uses data from in-depth interviews, focus groups, archival documents, and observations. I suggest that sorghum almost disappeared due to a combination of maize promotion, male migration, and pest problems. An upsurge of tobacco production, in part due to neoliberal policies, combined with gender dynamics that favor maize are reducing finger millet production. Drawing on theories of feminist political ecology, resilience, and indigenous knowledge, I argue that agrobiodiversity and related indigenous knowledge are situated in material and gendered practices. Efforts to improve social resilience in these vulnerable regions need to pay attention to processes and the intersectionality of gender, class, and other subjectivities at different scales that produce particular agricultural practices and knowledge in a given place.

Este artículo relata la historia de dos granos indígenas adaptados a la sequía, el millo (mijo) perla y el sorgo, que tradicionalmente han sido cultivados en la parte norte de Malawi. El sorgo esencialmente desapareció del paisaje, remplazado por el maíz. El millo perla persistió, pese a que su cultivo fue desestimulado por los gobiernos colonial y poscolonial, pero ahora está en declive. El estudio de caso sobre estas dos cosechas en el norte de aquel país utiliza datos generados en entrevistas a profundidad, grupos focales, documentos de archivo y observaciones de campo. Pienso que el sorgo casi desapareció debido a las campañas de promoción del maíz, combinadas con otros factores como la migración de varones y problemas de plagas. En lo que se refiere al millo perla, su producción se ha reducido por la competencia de la reactivación de cultivos de tabaco, debida en parte a políticas neoliberales, combinado todo esto con dinámicas de género que favorecen el cultivo del maíz. A partir de teorías de ecología política feminista, resiliencia y conocimiento indígena, arguyo que la agro-biodiversidad y el conocimiento indígena pertinente son factores situacionales en las prácticas de materialidad y género. Los esfuerzos para mejorar la resiliencia social en estas regiones vulnerables deben poner atención sobre los procesos y la interseccionalidad de género, clase y otras subjetividades, a diferentes escalas, que producen prácticas agrícolas particulares y conocimiento en un lugar dado.

Keywords: feminist political ecology, gender, indigenous knowledge, Malawi, resilience, ecología política feminista, conocimiento indígena, resiliencia

Topics: Agriculture, Class, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Economies, Feminisms, Feminist Political Ecology, Gender, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Malawi

Year: 2011

Gender Roles and Practices in Natural Resource Management Among the Kilosa Maasai in Tanzania


Massoi, Lucy W. 2019. “Gender Roles and Practices in Natural Resource Management Among the Kilosa Maasai in Tanzania.” Tanzania Journal of Development Studies 17 (1): 102-16.

Author: Lucy W. Massoi


This article empirically describes gender roles and practices in natural resource management among the pastoral Maasai society of Kilosa, Tanzania. Through a qualitative approach, a descriptive case study design was adopted to collect and analyse data using content analysis. Results show that gender roles and practice in land management is gender differentiated. There is a strong patriarchal system in Maasai societies that govern access to, and use of, land. Women have limited access/ownership to land and have to seek permission from men to use land. In this regard, the hardest hit are women who use land without having independent access or muscles for negotiating due to existing norms and values that license their exclusion. The article argues that unless customary practices are addressed, women issues will remain unchanged given the presence of a male-centred customary practice built on strong patriarchal system that side-lines women in land management.

Keywords: gender, gender roles, natural resource management, pastoral Maasai women

Topics: Gender, Gender Roles, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Tanzania

Year: 2019

Climate Change, Buen Vivir, and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Toward a Feminist Critical Philosophy of Climate Justice


Cochrane, Regina. 2014. “Climate Change, Buen Vivir, and the Dialectic of Enlightenment: Toward a Feminist Critical Philosophy of Climate Justice.” Hypatia 29 (3): 576–98.

Author: Regina Cochrane


This paper examines the proposal that the indigenous cosmovision of buen vivir (good living)—the “organizing principle” of Ecuador's 2008 and Bolivia's 2009 constitutional reforms—constitutes an appropriate basis for responding to climate change. Advocates of this approach blame climate change on a “civilizational crisis” that is fundamentally a crisis of modern Enlightenment reason. Certain Latin American feminists and indigenous women, however, question the implications, for women, of any proposed “civilizational shift” seeking to reverse the human separation from nonhuman nature wrought via Enlightenment's “disenchantment of nature.” The paper argues that, in order to adequately address both the climate crisis and feminist concerns about buen vivir, a different critique of Enlightenment modernity is necessary—one drawing on Adorno's philosophy of negative dialectics and on Adorno and Horkheimer's nonidentitarian dialectical understanding of Enlightenment. Conceiving Enlightenment as composed of nonsublatable moments of domination and liberation, Adorno and Horkheimer call for a rational critique of reason and for affinity rather than identity with nonhuman nature. The paper ends with a brief discussion of how feminist critiques of buen vivir and approaches to climate justice can be furthered via an engagement with an environmental feminist philosophy informed by a negative dialectical approach to Enlightenment.

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Feminisms, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, South America Countries: Bolivia, Ecuador

Year: 2014

Women, Culture and Africa’s Land Reform Agenda


Akinola, Adeoye O. 2018. “Women, Culture and Africa’s Land Reform Agenda.” Frontiers in Psychology 9.

Author: Adeoye O. Akinola


Pre-colonial Africa pride itself on adherence to diverse cultural affinity and traditional belief system, which defines the place of women in respect to land access, use and ownership. Land resource continues to play important roles in both agrarian and industrial societies; thus, absence of effective land management and gender construction in land allocations has deepened gender inequality, restricted women’s capacity building and agricultural development in Africa. This article explores the impact of African traditional practices and cultural beliefs on women’s land ownership and use, it also reconciles women’s land rights (access and control) with the realities of land reform in post-colonial Africa. It explores how gender inequalities, in terms of land ownership and rights, have jeopardized attempts at agricultural productivity and sustainable development in Africa. Although, it is tasking to ‘universalize’ Africa culture and locate it in a centre, due to the diverse cultural values found in Africa. However, there are certain belief systems that run through most African communities, such as the denials of women’s land rights and patriarchal nature of the societies. Thus, the article found that, despite the development of legal frameworks that expands women’s property rights, cases of cultural impediments to the exercise of land rights abound in Africa.

Keywords: culture, women rights, land reform, land labour, human capacity building, Africa

Topics: Agriculture, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Patriarchy, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Land Tenure, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Africa

Year: 2018

A Radical More-Than-Human Intersectionality in Ecologically Compromised Times


Fejzic, Sanita. 2020. "A Radical More-Than-Human Intersectionality in Ecologically Compromised Times." In Handbook of Research on New Dimensions of Gender Mainstreaming and Women Empowerment, edited by Moly Kuruvilla and Irene George, 509-29. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Author: Sanita Fejzic


Gender-based analysis+(GBA+) efforts by the Canadian government that attend to climate change often focus on ‘sustainable management' of ‘resources' alongside inclusion of vulnerable groups at decision-making tables; meanwhile, scholars and activists focus attention toward eco- and social-justice models couched in good nation-to-nation relations with Indigenous communities. This chapter suggests that attunement to Indigenous knowledges and other-than-humans (nonhuman animals, plants, and elements such as water) is necessary in the wake of global ecological collapse, founded on principles of responsibility and respect of Indigenous sovereignty over land and attunement to Indigenous ‘caretaking relations' with other-than-humans. (Summary from original source)

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Gender, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Canada

Year: 2020


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