Knowledges Apart: How to Converge Disciplinary, Epistemological and Social Realities?
Time & LocationSession 5
Thu 09:00–10:30 Room 1.102
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- Contestation and Co-Production of Local Knowledge: A Transdisciplinary Study of the Road-Link Project in Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar Naruemon Thabchumpon Chulalongkorn University
Mainland Southeast Asia is currently facing pressing challenges of regional integration through the formation of the ASEAN community. Accelerated land grabbing, conflicts over resources and social inequality throughout the region have become issues of national policies, and governments increasingly engage academia and non-academic actors to assure sustainable and just economic growth. The targeted creation of a knowledge society is expected to promote social justice, peace and inclusive development. This paper introduces a study of the 138-kilometre “road-link” project that connects Kanchanaburi Province, Thailand to North of Dawei town that changed transportation access, and facilitates a growing cross-border trade between Myanmar and Thailand. The Dawai Special Economic Zone and the road-link have been highly contested in terms of its impacts on local communities due to uncompensated loss of land and other impacts of resettlement on livelihood and culture, as well as overall weak public participation. Throughout the study, a transdisciplinary design is applied to conduct research and reconfigure the relationship between political and academic authorities and local communities over the production of knowledge and construction of a development discourse. By such reconfiguration, the study has a clear social impact and represents both new opportunities and challenges for local development.The paper discusses transdisciplinary research and its claim to converge and integrate different realities in a case study, and relates these experiences to the findings of the KNOTS Project.
- Thai Baan (Villagers) Research: History, Philosophy and an Alternative Methodology of Knowledge Production Chayan Vaddhanaphuti Chiang Mai University
The paper aims to discuss Thai Ban Research (TBR), an alternative research methodology developed by Thai academics and NGOs, which emphasizes local knowledge on natural resources and livelihoods. The history and impact of this innovative methodology stands in stark contrast to the official, scientific knowledge often used to justify state-initiated development. Its epistemological background and the reflection of power relations in knowledge production stress the essential role of the local people who produce knowledge from their own practice. TBR defines a form of interaction between researchers and local people, often not endowed with access to academic knowledge, who become the main co-producers of knowledge. In this sense, TBR bears resemblance to transdisciplinary research and refers in crucial terms to its aim of integrating academic and non-academic perspectives in producing socially relevant knowledge. The paper thus discusses different vernacular forms of data conceptualization, gathering and presentation and a holistic view of interaction between people and nature, which lie at the heart of many transdisciplinary endeavors. By contrasting the merits and limitations in using TBR in knowledge production and empowerment, the contribution addresses compatibility and interfaces of Thai Baan Research and transdisciplinarity to address pressing developmental issues in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
- Towards Enhancing Social Cohesion of Migrants in the West Ho Chi Minh City: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Building Participation for Youth Migrant Workers from the Mekong Delta Minh Doi Nguyen Ho Chi Minh City Open University
As the west gateway between the industrial region in the southeast of Vietnam and Mekong Delta, the peri-urban area in the west Ho Chi Minh City attracts large numbers of migrants from many other provinces, but especially from the Mekong Delta, seeking labour opportunities and better lives there. The sudden increase in mechanical population, however, generates complex social problems and increasing social contrast, due to the disparate distribution of positive and negative effects of peri-urban growth between different local communities and groups. These emerging social problems are challenging the political socio-economic development efforts but have not yet been given adequate attention. The objective of this project, therefore, is to explore the potential of a transdisciplinary approach to create a knowledge that can challenge the dominant development discourse. The study of daily life experience of migrants in the west Ho Chi Minh City is an important contribution and a first step to produce a socially solid knowledge of factors and aspects necessary to enhance and achieve social cohesion in this area. The paper presents the experiences of an academic and non-academic research team on how participation in knowledge production beyond the academic realm affected the social cohesion dimension of youth migrant workers from Mekong Delta in Binh Tan District. The first part regards the measurement of civic participation and social or community participation. The second introduces the identification of the aspects that affect the level of participation. The third is to co-create solutions that improve the awareness and collaborative ability of stakeholders. The paper further asks how transdisciplinary research, as it has been discussed within the KNOTS project, could be applied in urban studies in Vietnam, and what its benefits and limitations with relation to integrative knowledge production are.
- Transdisciplinarity and Its Challenges: Some Insights from an Erasmus+ Project Petra Dannecker University of Vienna
The aim of the KNOTS Erasmus+ Project, which started in 2016 and ends 2019, is to develop transdisciplinary knowledge production further by engaging with transdisciplinary concepts and approaches in research and teaching and by building up transdisciplinary knowledge networks. The participating Universities and Institutes from Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria share the common assumption that a new form of knowledge production is needed to deal with global challenges like migration, social inequality and environmental degradation. These global problems can neither be studied from one scientific discipline with its specific approaches and methodological strands exclusively nor without the integration of non-academic actors and their specific knowledge. Thus discussions, developments and building up transdisciplinary capacities in research and teaching in the participating higher education institutes, to initiate regionally embedded transformations and social change, was pursued for the last years. In this presentation, the implementation as well as the process will be reflected and discussed from a critical development studies perspective. This perspective was chosen, since it provides approaches to analyze and contextualize the challenges the project faced, such as North-South knowledge hierarchies, inequalities related to the administrative and financial management structure of the project, constrains and different possibilities to participate due to power structures and the different positionalities of the actors involved, hierarchies between and within universities, as well as between academic and non-academic actors, just to name some. Since these challenges are hardly discussed in studies on and evaluations of transdisciplinarity respectively transdisciplinary projects, with the chosen perspective, the aim of the presentation is to show that the experiences the KNOTS project went through are not necessarily unique to transdisciplinary or transdisciplinary research projects. Questions of knowledge hierarchies and participation for example are experienced and discussed in other areas, however these discussions are hardly taken up to understand and also frame the challenges transdisciplinary projects are confronted with. Thus, the presentation hopes to provide new insights into transdisciplinarity, insights that could help to develop transdisciplinary knowledge production further, especially in so-called North-South projects.
Migration, access to natural resources, and social inequality are closely linked phenomena, globally as well as across Southeast Asia. The collapse of a dam wall in Champasak Province, Laos, in July 2018, caused a major flooding, which dramatically demonstrated the urgency to address the interrelatedness of these issues. The tragedy made clear that those who profit least from growth-oriented “catching up” development processes often must bear the highest costs. To provide convincing answers and workable alternatives to such and other highly relevant problems, intensified exchange and collaboration across national boundaries, but also across disciplinary and academic ones is required.
While the idea of transcending boundaries to further collaborative knowledge production is at least as old as the boundaries themselves, methodologies of such collaborations are tagged differently across the world, and based on different epistemological traditions. The working concept of transdisciplinarity is an attempt to systematize these efforts and to encourage ongoing discussion. The KNOTS Erasmus+ project, which started in 2016, aims exactly at that: to connect participatory, collaborative, socially engaged and transdisciplinary concepts, methodologies, and philosophies in research and teaching.
The panel will discuss the results of the three years of joint involvement of participating universities in Thailand, Vietnam and the EU to draft a transdisciplinary teaching manual, but also look further ahead. The panel invites the presenters to address questions of commensurability of academic and practical knowledges as well as scenarios of collaboration under the auspices of an extended regional cooperation, linking the above-mentioned phenomena on the conceptual, analytical and political level. In particular, the panel will discuss challenges, which accompany such an endeavour; challenges arising from different perceptions of ‘relevant’ knowledges, different relationships between science and politics as well as different problem definitions regarding migration, inequality and access to natural resources.