Ponta Negra Ethnoecology of Practice: Intergenerational Knowledge Continuity in the Atlantic Forest Coast of Brazil
Idrobo, Carlos Julián
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The intergenerational continuity of knowledge has become a concern as small-scale societies worldwide balance the challenges of adapting to environmental change associated with globalization while retaining continuity in their ways of life. This dissertation examines the intergenerational continuity of environmental knowledge through the conceptual lens of an Ethnoecology of Practice framework (EofP) developed to guide this research. Integrating insights from political ecology, social wellbeing and adaptive learning, the EofP provides theoretical and methodological tools based on practice theory to examine the knowledge of small-scale societies. Based on fieldwork in the community of Ponta Negra (Atlantic Forest Coast, Brazil), this dissertation uses a qualitative case study strategy of inquiry guided by a phenomenological worldview. Methods included participant observation, semi-structured interviews covering livelihoods, life histories and marine and terrestrial knowledge themes, document review and a census. Chapters 4 and 5 examine the perception of marine and terrestrial natural resources by tracing their social life from harvesting grounds to exchange and consumption sites. Chapters 6 and 9 analyse historical and contemporary adaptation to environmental change. While Chapter 6 describes the adoption of the pound net fishery, Chapter 9 illustrates contemporary modes of learning associated with natural resource harvesting and presents the processes associated with production of new knowledge through the example of local participation in the tourism economy. Chapter 7 examines local perspectives on livelihood transition from a social wellbeing perspective and highlights factors underlying the continuity of natural resource harvesting practice in Ponta Negra. Chapter 8 discusses how the term Caiçara, as used in biodiversity conservation and tourism development discourses, circumscribes the relation between coastal people and their local environments to a subsistence economy, denying their current economic engagements as well as their desires and aspirations. This dissertation contributes to ethnobiological understandings of the intergenerational continuity of knowledge by providing a framework and grounding evidence that demonstrates how knowledge is generated through context-specific practice attuned to dynamic environments that leads to individual innovation. It provides a theoretical contribution to our understanding of framing and creating processes inherent to human-in environment relations that lead to fluidity in ways of life over time.