The Elgar Companion to Geography, Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability
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The Elgar Companion to Geography, Transdisciplinarity and Sustainability

Edited by Fausto O. Sarmiento and Larry M. Frolich

With contributions from top geographers, this Companion frames sustainability as exemplar of transdisciplinary science (critical geography) while improving future scenarios, debating perspectives between rich North/poor South, modern urban/backwards rural, and everything in between. The Companion has five sections that carry the reader from foundational considerations to integrative trends, to resources use and accommodation, to examples highlighting non-traditional pathways, to a postscript about cooperation of the industrialized Earth and a prognosis of the road ahead for the new geographies of sustainability.
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Chapter 19: Decolonizing ecological knowledge: transdisciplinary ecology, place making and cognitive justice in the Andes

Sébastien Boillat


This chapter explores the concept of place interpreted from ecological knowledge and religious practices of rural indigenous people found from southern Peru to Bolivia and northern Chile and Argentina. Based on literature from this area as well as on field observations from Bolivia, I highlight the evidence of a culturally specific, widely shared and persistent concept of place. Such concept simultaneously considers the place as a living, social being with agency and as the target of ritual offerings, and as a spatial container of ecological knowledge, and individual and collective memory. This apparently dual conceptualization and practical use challenges the division of the profane and the sacred, the common and the proper and the living and the non-living and has profound implications for thinking and building sustainability from a transdisciplinary perspective. It nevertheless also represents an opportunity to re-think ecosystems from a physically and ontically open perspective. To enable this new perspective, ontological options underpinning different forms of ecological knowledge have to be made explicit and correctly interpreted.

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