1 results for Apgar, Jane Marina

  • Adaptive capacity for endogenous development of Kuna Yala, an Indigenous Biocultural System

    Apgar, Jane Marina

    Lincoln University

    This thesis presents collaborative research undertaken with the Kuna indigenous peoples in Kuna Yala, a semi-autonomous indigenous territory in Panama. The Kuna experience of ongoing governance through traditional practices was chosen as an informative example through which to build understanding of the underlying processes that support endogenous development with the objective of contributing to a reframing of development and supporting self-determination of indigenous peoples. Complexity theory and a complex adaptive systems (CASs) analytical framework provide the theoretical grounding for a reframing of development as an endogenous process interacting across scales. The CASs framework guides a multi-scale analysis of Kuna Yala described as an indigenous biocultural system (IBCS) through merging complexity and biocultural approaches to working with indigenous territories. Through this framing, Kuna adaptive capacity which supports self-organisation becomes the central focus of the study. Participatory action research methodology facilitated iterations of learning cycles with a reflection group of Kuna leaders, through which conceptual clarity of adaptive capacity as an emergent phenomenon was sought. Three key groups of practices where simultaneously analysed through in-depth qualitative inquiry at multiple levels of collectivity: (i) leadership development, (ii) personhood development, and (iii) networking. Findings from analysis of key practices enable holistic interpretations of Kuna adaptive capacity and governance processes and understanding of how they support endogenous development. A key finding is that two levels of adaptive change support endogenous development. One level is consistent with adaptive management models, and I term the deeper level transformative change. Both operate through ongoing processes of reflection and interaction creating relational spaces, while transformation requires deeper levels of reflection which are facilitated through rituals. Findings on Kuna governance inform reflexive governance models by highlighting processes for linking between knowledge systems and scales for transdisciplinarity. Further, the Kuna case illustrates a fundamental role for ritual in supporting well-being across levels and scales of sustainability goals. The analysis also highlights key areas of challenges the Kuna and indigenous peoples in general face in supporting their self-determination within the current context of an interconnected global system. The last chapters of the thesis discuss reflections on the findings which lead to highlighting leverage points for Kuna practice and supporting indigenous self-determination. Finally, some reflections are offered on the challenges and opportunities that complexity provides for re-conceptualising the role of development agencies and projects in supporting endogenous development locally.

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