Indigenous Ecological Knowledge as Situated Practices: Understanding Fishers’ Knowledge in the Western Solomon Islands



ABSTRACT  In this article, we draw on research among fisherfolk of Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands, to examine certain epistemological assumptions of the “indigenous knowledge” concept. We describe how approaches to knowledge in Roviana differ from prevailing models of knowledge that distinguish between cognitive aspects and other modalities of knowing. For many Roviana fishers, ecological knowledge is not analytically separated from the changing contexts of everyday activities such as navigating and fishing. Inspired by Roviana epistemologies, we argue that a practice-oriented approach provides a more sympathetic and informative theoretical framework for understanding knowledge and its role in contemporary marine-resource conservation efforts. The theoretical and methodological implications of the perspective are illustrated with examples from an ongoing marine conservation project in the western Solomon Islands that integrates indigenous knowledge, remote-sensing techniques, and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies.