The Centre for Indigenous Conservation and Development Alternatives (CICADA) has as its central goal the coproduction of knowledge for the analysis and advancement of indigenous partners’ collective ‘life projects.’ Life projects are inspired, on the one hand, by indigenous ontologies in which reciprocity is the true relationship of humans with other life, and respect is at the core of positive reciprocity. At the same time, life projects emerge from cultural landscapes transformed by the capitalist exploitation of ‘natural resources,’ a dual intrusion on territories and peoples. In these ‘contact zones,’ conflict and accommodation, negotiation and institutional hybridity are endemic.
While the bulk of our researchers are drawn from social sciences and humanities, we also have significant membership from biological, environmental and natural resource sciences. Hence we have a broad capacity to explore the phenomena labelled ‘conservation’ and ‘development’ through heuristic dialogue between the diversely grounded indigenous knowledge systems of our partners, and the diverse epistemological traditions of the university. Moreover, the political implications of this dialogue, as it illuminates and influences the course of life projects, will be front and centre.