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Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 368–370 | Cite as

Decolonizing ecological research

  • Zina Skandrani
Article

Abstract

Discrepancies in the distribution of global ecological research have been identified at several levels in recent years. A striking one is the under-representation of North Africa and the Middle East in the field of ecological studies, which has not yet led to an in depth consideration of its causes. I provide an illustration of this uneven research pattern and draw parallels never highlighted before between this scientific gap and the environmental history of North Africa and the Middle East in the twentieth century. This research bias should indeed be considered from a novel perspective leaning on environmental history studies. I identify colonial narratives of environmental destruction regarding North Africa and the Middle East, that were the dominant discourse when ecology was developing as a scientific discipline, as the early driver of the scientific disinterest in the environment of these regions. In particular, I argue that these past colonial narratives may still be latent in the lack of scientific consideration of the regions as sites of ecological research interest. The connections made in this essay give an illustration of how society and science may encounter and influence each other. It is further important that contemporary scientists in the field of ecology become aware of the ideological foundations of their discipline in order to reflect on how they could contribute to reverse the described research bias. I conclude the essay by emphasizing on the relevance of ecological research in North Africa and the Middle East in the frame of climate change and current scientific efforts deployed to halt environmental destruction.

Keywords

Ecological research Knowledge gap Environmental history North Africa-Middle East Colonial narratives 

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Copyright information

© AESS 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie et des Sciences de la Conservation (CESCO), Museum National d’Histoire NaturelleParisFrance

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