The role of social memory in natural resource management: insights from participatory video

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Abstract

This research looked at the role of social memory for adaptive natural resource management within indigenous communities of the North Rupununi social-ecological system (SES) in Guyana. Secondary data from historic texts and archives were first used to build a social and ecological history of the North Rupununi SES. Current social memory ‘in use’ was then surfaced through a participatory video (PV) process led by the indigenous community. From this, a compendium of key narratives of the communities' social memory was identified and modes of social memory creation, transmittance and modification were revealed. These highlighted the role of social memory in identity formation and self representation, how social memory maintains and reinforces community connectedness and collectiveness, and how PV supports indigenous ways of communication, especially the visual. The study provides some valuable insights into the dynamic nature of the North Rupununi SES social memory, how it is used to make sense of the world, and how PV can be used as a tool for surfacing and recording social memory.

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