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Jun 03, 2024 Essay
Clashing epistemologies and contrasting injustice: an Aotearoa/ New Zealand case

by Marie McEntee, Mark Harvey and Fabien Medvecky

How, as researchers, do we recognise and address the implicit biases when engaging across multiple knowledge ecologies. In this paper, we consider the way historical and epistemic justice and injustice plays into our knowledge making when dealing with a specific issue: forest biosecurity. Specifically, we focus on the Aotearoa New Zealand context where knowledge making has been, and still is, dominated by a western paradigm, but where there is increasing discussion on mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) as a valid and valuable form of knowing. Drawing on the experiences of a transdisciplinary research programme that sought to examine the human dimensions of biosecurity aspects of the plant pathogens kauri dieback and myrtle rust, we approach our original question using the theoretical concept of epistemic injustice and draw on our experiences as a way to highlight instances and forms of epistemic injustice in the science-society relationship. We argue that the division of epistemic labour (into fields, disciplines, etc), and the ranking and assigning of relative epistemic credibility based on this division is a fundamental part of the western knowledge ecology which creates the necessary conditions for specific and potent forms of epistemic injustice. We contrast this by discussing how other knowledge ecologies, specifically mātauranga Māori, comfortably engages with a variety of knowledge and knowers and discuss the possibilities other knowledge ecologies offer.

Volume 23 • Issue 04 • 2024 • Special Issue: Science communication for social justice