The Future of Traditional Knowledge Research: Building Partnership and Capacity

Guest Editor: Kenichi Matsui, University of Tsukuba

Since the late twentieth century, academics, NGOs, lawyers and policymakers have become increasingly aware that locally produced historical and contemporary knowledge and wisdom not only sustain in-situ conservation of the environment and biodiversity but also empower Indigenous peoples and local communities. Hasty actions to collect knowledge without establishing cross-cultural understanding and secure fair negotiating terms, however, have strained the relationships between researchers (or lawyers, courts, policymakers) and knowledge holders. Today, we have a large number of academic studies published on the subject of traditional knowledge, Indigenous knowledge, and local knowledge. United Nations agencies (e.g., WIPO, UNU-IAS, UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP) and NGOs (e.g., IUCN, Natural Justice) have distributed independent publications about how researchers and aid workers along with government agents should develop collaborative partnerships in order to better represent and protect traditional (ecological) knowledge in their works. Many of these guides stress the need to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and Indigenous and local peoples, but no substantial cross-cultural and comparative publication exists that addresses the issue of how researchers and other interested groups may achieve such relationships. Researchers (including consultants) and government agents, therefore, cannot look for guidance in the existing literature about how they may build their capacity to be cross-culturally and ethically competent in generating new knowledge and publicizing the results of their studies.

The main objective of this special issue, therefore, is to address the issue of building partnerships and capacity to improve the quality of participatory research and policies involving traditional knowledge and Indigenous communities. It provides readers, especially academic, government and NGO researchers, with applied ethical guidelines for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research. It also aims to facilitate further discussion with case studies and personal experience.

This special issue covers topics related to:

  • Collaborative research on historical evidence presentation,
  • Legal representation of Indigenous knowledge in court,
  • Indigenous peoples’ collaboration in anthropological work,
  • Human rights and social activism-oriented research,
  • Indigenous engagement in environmental management, and
  • Biodiversity policy for empowering Indigenous peoples.

It also informs dialogues and discussion about cultural differences among wide-ranging stakeholders. Although United Nations agencies have actively produced ethical guidelines for researchers to conduct data collection and environmental impact assessments, these policy statements and directives alone cannot help researchers achieve their goals. The core values and practices that are needed for building ethical relationships will only emerge from a solid cross-cultural understanding and capacity building efforts by both researchers and their collaborators.

Submission deadline: September 26, 2014

Manuscript preparation guidelines can be found in IIPJ’s Author Guide


Tourism in Indigenous Communities: Challenges and Opportunities

Guest Editors: Bernardo Peredo Videa, University of Oxford and Thomas Thornton, University of Oxford

The terms Indigenous ecotourism, community-based tourism, and Aboriginal tourism have emerged since the mid-1990s to describe community-based tourism projects developed on Indigenous lands and in Indigenous territories in both the developing and developed world. The emergence of tourism industries in Indigenous communities has brought hopes of integrating community development with environmental conservation. However, there are also concerns that tourism on Indigenous lands may contaminate the cultural identity of the local people, commodify culture, introduce new forms of imperialism that will overpower traditional institutions, distribute benefits unequally, and fail to adequately preserve the environment and traditional ways of life. While those who promote ecotourism suggest that there is much support for community-based tourism ventures, it is difficult to find successful cases in practice and community-based management models. Research on community-based tourism operations tends to focus on the day-to-day operations at one point in time rather than the full life cycle and may overlook important governance structures. Scale then is an important subject in understanding community-based tourism because it raises issues as to what scale of analysis should be examined and how findings at one scale can be related to another.

The aim of this special edition is to identify best practices, lessons learned, challenges, and opportunities for Indigenous tourism around the world.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies of Indigenous tourism projects;
  • Regional or international comparisons of Indigenous tourism;
  • Origins, development, market and economic analysis;
  • Social perceptions of economic, social, cultural and/or environmental impacts;
  • Contributions to social entrepreneurship, environmental management, biodiversity conservation and/or economic development;
  • All articles will include a focus on policy implications or lessons learned.

    Submission deadline: April 17, 2015

    Manuscript preparation guidelines can be found in IIPJ’s Author Guide