Upcoming Events 2023


Applying Ethnography to Public Policy Issues: The Comparative Politics of Informal Waste Picking

Raul Pacheco-Vega (Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) Mexico)

12 Noon, Seminar room, 64 Banbury Road

Many studies of informal waste picking have focused on the survival strategies of recyclers and the sociopolitical contexts within which they operate. Less has been written about the politics of the relationships between informal waste pickers and local governments. In this talk I discuss how ethnography as a research methodology can be used to understand public policy issues, specifically, how cities govern their garbage. Using data from a longitudinal comparative ethnography of informal waste picking across two cities in central Mexico (Leon in the state of Guanajuato and Aguascalientes in the namesake state of Aguascalientes) I offer new and valuable empirical evidence that sheds light on how different sociopolitical contexts, governed by different political parties, respond to the same societal issue (ensuring the livelihoods of informal recyclers). I trace the evolution of party affiliation and alignment across the two case studies, seeking to explain the divergence and (later) convergence of their policy strategies. I will also use this talk to offer insight on ethnography as a method for public policy analysis.

Contact: Dr. Jose Maria Valenzuela (jose.valenzuela@insis.ox.ac.uk)



Tuesday 14th March 2023

Linking transformative sustainability education with knowledge decoloniality: insights from professional forestry training in Tanzania

Mathew Bukhi Mabele, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Dodoma, Tanzania & Centre of African Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

12 Noon, Seminar Room, 64 Banbury Road

Recent debates about transformative sustainability education have emphasised for a reconsideration of dominant pedagogies and forms of education to respond to complex, uncertain and evolving socio-ecological challenges. However, the debates have limitedly reflected on legacies of colonial sciences and how a surging movement for knowledge decoloniality could foster the needed transformation for different ways of thinking and acting about the challenges. I hereby address this gap by linking the two bodies of literature through an examination of professional forestry training in Tanzania. Drawing on expert interviews, documentary reviews and personal research and education experiences in Tanzania’s Miombo forests, I show that the training is rooted in colonial forestry ideals that understate human dimensions, isolate forestry science and practice from other disciplines and land use practices, label local forest uses as ‘disturbances’ and encourage knowledge consensus over diversity. These produce inadequate understandings of the socio-ecological complexities and inattention on substantive social injustices. I then propose a transformative forestry learning to facilitate decolonial deconstruction of the ideals, enable foresters’ pluralistic understandings of human-environment interactions and grow into alternative just socio-ecologies. Transformative forestry learning thus concerns the whole system re-design to rethink about epistemological and ontological assumptions that drive current actions around the interactions. I conclude that transformative sustainability education transcends well with innovations in methodologies and knowledge foundations that dismantle colonial scientific legacies in assessing the interactions in socio-politically complex, diverse and multiple-use ecosystems such as those in Tanzania and beyond.

Contact: Dr. Jose Maria Valenzuela (jose.valenzuela@insis.ox.ac.uk)