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Art and Artistic Processes Bridge Knowledge Systems about Social-Ecological Change: An Empirical Examination with Inuit Artists from Nunavut, Canada

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Rathwell, Kaitlyn J.; Armitage, Derek
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 21
Date: 2016
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10198
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Region: North America
Subject(s): arctic regions
traditional knowledge
Abstract: "The role of art and artistic processes is one fruitful yet underexplored area of social-ecological resilience. Art and art making can nurture Indigenous knowledge and at the same time bridge knowledge across generations and cultures (e.g., Inuit and scientific). Experiences in two Inuit communities in northern Canada (Cape Dorset and Pangnirtung, Nunavut) provide the context in which we empirically examine the mechanisms through which art and art making may bridge knowledge systems about social-ecological change. Art making and artworks create continuity between generations via symbols and skill development (e.g., seal skin stretching for a modern artistic mural) and by creating mobile and adaptive boundary objects that function as a shared reference point to connect different social worlds. Our results indicate how art and artistic processes may bridge knowledge systems through six mechanisms, and in so doing contribute to social-ecological resilience during change and uncertainty. These mechanisms are (1) embedding knowledge, practice and belief into art objects; (2) sharing knowledge using the language of art; (3) sharing of art making skills; (4) art as a contributor to monitoring social-ecological change; (5) the role of art in fostering continuity through time; and (6) art as a site of knowledge coproduction."

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