Climate change and cultural diversity


Journal Article


Wisner, B.


Climate change and cultural diversity




International Social Science Journal

Vol (No), pp

61(199), 131-140


Cultures and climate are changing. These changes interact with local knowledge and practice. Research has focused on technical questions, such as how small farmers and livestock keepers understand seasonal forecasts, veterinary problems or market conditions. However, there is a more holistic way of engaging local knowledge. Rural people utilise external technical ideas and tools, even complex ones, that complement their own concepts and experience of change. However, there are obstacles to overcome in generating such hybrid local knowledge. Firstly, there is a long history of domination of rural people by urban elites, including the assumed superiority of urban or high culture versus rural, vernacular or low culture. A second obstacle comes from the frequent use of science as justification to force rural people to do what governments want. Experience of exclusion and displacement has left a residue of bitterness and suspicion among many rural people. A third obstacle involves misuse of one-size-fits-all methods. No single, homogeneous knowledge exists in a locality. Rather there are women’s forms of knowledge and the knowledge of men and elders and the knowledge of young people and children, which are differentiated also by occupation and by ethnicity. In the face of such cultural diversity an incompetent use of standardised participatory methods yields poor results and may alienate residents.


Wisner, B. (2010). Climate change and cultural diversity. International Social Science Journal, 61(199), 131-140. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2451.2010.01752.x