Challenges and opportunities of metadisciplinary place-based research: The case of the Maya forest

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2 Scopus citations


This paper explores challenges and opportunities of metadisciplinary place-based research. A metadisciplinary framework based on four ecological integrity scientific discourses is proposed for interpreting local perceptions of ecological transformations in the Maya forests of the Middle Usumacinta watershed (Mexico and Guatemala). The value of this framework is illustrated by exploring perceptions about ecological transformation in three place-based communities. Perceptions were investigated through ethnographic methods based on: (1) reporting the researcher's dialogical involvement with professionals and local inhabitants; (2) participant observation; and (3) bibliographic research in order to characterize the Maya forest as a place. Multiple perspectives are often interacting within place-based communities and ecological integrity of a place should be understood as the result of these interactions. This understanding of ecological integrity requires expanding the scope of conservation strategies beyond the establishment of protected areas and the political negotiation of land uses, and including the processes through which people make sense of their complex relationships with the environment. The example of the Maya forest suggests that conservation strategies need to connect intellectually with the socio-ecological and cultural worlds in which they are trying to intervene and this requires full involvement with people in the place under investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-96
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 9 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourse
  • Ecological integrity
  • Maya forest
  • Metadisciplinary
  • Place-based

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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