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Development as Knowledge Networks: From Global Ideas to Grassroots Movements

Researcher(s): Elizaveta Fouksman


Theme: Political Change

Project Status: Active

My research is ultimately engaged with the geography of knowledge: the way that knowledge – together with values and actions – is generated, transferred, contested and renegotiated on both the global and local scale. In particular, I explore the role of civil society organizations as the mechanism of global knowledge flows. How are global discourses formed, adapted and spread via civil society networks into local communities? How do local communities interact with, change, implement or ignore the values, knowledge and rhetoric of global movements? How are they shaped by these discourses and what role do they have in shaping and creating the discourses themselves? These questions emerge out of the literature around the politics of NGOs, the emergence of global civil society, and ideas of epistemic communities and a network society.

To explore these questions, I use a multi-sited case study of one such ‘knowledge network’ – an international foundation that focuses on biocultural diversity, their partner NGOs in the developing world, and most importantly the small and geographically remote communities which are supported, through this network of civil society institutions, in creating grass-roots conservation initiatives. I explore the mechanisms and structures that enable this network to form and function, the ways in which knowledge and values are shared – and contested – between the different sites of the case study, and the ways in which each site or node in the network is both impacted by and impacts in turn the formation and transfer of knowledge from global movements to local manifestations.

International Development: increasing well-being and reducing inequality in global society