Academy for Democracy

    Audio Visual Cultures: Mapping Indigenous Processes that help conserve Natural Resources

    By Zahra Hussain & Fatima Hussain

    Key words: Indigenous Knowledge, Intangible Heritage, and Preserving Landscapes

    We are interested in mapping processes of cultural practices and indigenous knowledge in instances of crisis or a rupture where common practices come to a complete halt and responses to the critical moments are introduced. Our research questions focus on how the indigenous knowledge is lost or displaced within such ruptures, if at all and how can it be revived, improvised and used for rehabilitation and reconstruction processes. Indigenous knowledge comes from analytical and experimental approaches to learning. ‘Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. It is the basis for local-level decision-making in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural resource management, and a host of other activities in rural communities.’ Another useful definition is the following: ‘Indigenous knowledge is the information base for a society, which facilitates communication and decision-making. Indigenous information systems are dynamic, and are continually influenced by internal creativity and experimentation as well as by contact with externalsystems.’Or: ‘Indigenous knowledge is the knowledge that people in a given community have developed over time, and continue to develop. It is based on experience, often tested over centuries of use, adapted to local culture and environment, dynamic and changing.’[1] Since such communities rely heavily on nature for their sustenance, they have gained years worth of knowledge from close observation and experience of environmental patterns. The local context hence streamlines the everyday, cultural practices, habitat, and traditions of these areas. -You are required to map out oral/visual archive of the indigenous knowledge that informs the living pattern and survival tools in this dynamic landscape. – Keeping the “crises” in view, the archive is ideally a collection of several overlapping information about Attabad Lake incident of different organisations, individuals, affected etc (AKCSP, FOCUS, LOCAL COUNCILS, IDP, FWO, GENERAL POPULATION) that have and are responding to the crises of Attabad Lake in order to build a comparative analysis for effective solutions. -The archive must be developed through documentation, diagrams, interviews, personal and collective analysis and visual data. (For eg. the wooden columns in the Altit Fort show numerous patterns that can be linked back to the Buddhist and Tibetan influence in this area that serves as a visual archive.) – Through your archive, you identify the problem. This archive is used as a discursive space for contemplation, dialogue, analysis and as the baseline information to build your project upon.

    [1]IIRR, Philippines, 1996. ‘Recording and using indigenous knowledge: a manual’.