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Local knowledge mobilization: The potential for participatory GIS and photovoice methods as community resilience strategies
* 1 , * 2
1  University of Regina
2  Universitat Internacional de Catalunya


Community resilience can be defined as the ability of complex socio-ecological systems to adapt and continually transform in order to overcome the strains and disturbances faced within the system. In recent decades, resilience implementation measures and their outcomes have increasingly demonstrated that in order to foster such an ability, they must be founded upon an understanding of the context-specific social dimensions of vulnerability—understanding the needs, the contexts, the social capital and the interests at play within communities. Contemporary literature has illustrated the short-sightedness and disastrous results that come from risk assessments and conceptions of vulnerability that have failed to take into account social context and local knowledge. In order to develop resilience strategies that support and sustain thriving communities, local knowledge must be integrated into decision-making processes, giving voice to multiple stakeholders and building towards a more equitable and inclusive social support system.

This paper explores how urban resilience strategies can pursue the fullest representation of diverse communities. Two participatory research methods are presented as tools for mobilizing community knowledge in the development of resilience capacity. Here we argue for the potential of photovoice and PGIS (participatory global information systems) as methods for investigating community knowledge and experience, in order to most effectively capture and integrate this knowledge into context-specific resilience policies and plans. By exploring the principles and practices of these two qualitative methods, their successes and challenges, and their particular aptitude for gaining unique community perspectives, this paper demonstrates the potential of participatory research methods for informing urban resilience strategies to bridge the gap between broader development agendas and social need.

Keywords: community resilience; local knowledge; qualitative methods; participatory research; contextual vulnerability