PALOC, “Local Heritage, Environment and Globalisation” is a multidisciplinary Joint Research Unit (UMR 208) in human and social sciences (anthropologists, archaeologists, ecologists, geographers, curators, botanists, historians, lawyers, surveyors), under the supervision of the French Institute for Research on Development (IRD) and the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN). Its main campus is located in the Jardin des Plantes (5th arrondissement of Paris).
Its main partners and field offices are located in the Mediterranean, in Eastern and Western Africa, in Asia (India and South-East Asia) and in America (mainly Brazil and Mexico).
In January 2020, PALOC comprised 50 members:
- 34 IRD researchers
- 8 MNHN lecturers or professors
- 4 technical support staff
- 4 post-doctoral students
- An invited partner unit
- Around 50 researchers are associates
In a challenging global context of ecological and climate crisis, PALOC researchers study the transformation of relationships between societies and their environments, by using a set of complementary concepts and approaches. Heritagisation – whether linked to biodiversity, associated knowledge, territories, etc. – is taken as a starting point to question governance, transmission, commons, regimes of rights to biodiversity and/or the environment), land tenures and knowledge processes from different perspectives.
Conceived as a notion and a mode of action, heritagisation constitutes an object of research to understand, evaluate, accompany and anticipate the transformations taking place in a globalised world. Studies start out from the local logics of actors and institutions, resonating with the national and international bodies, and focus on the interlinking scales in heritage processes; they are attentive to their social, cultural, environmental, legal and political repercussions. The whole contributes to a collective reflection on collaborative and participatory approaches and research.
The scientific aims in the medium term are to: (i) enable a better understanding of the effects of current environmental changes, especially by questioning the notions of transition, vulnerability and resilience in their own spatial and temporal areas, and analysing their socio-political processes and cultural transmission (especially knowledge of biodiversity through the confrontation and hybridisation of local and scientific knowledge); (ii) reinforcing awareness in research programmes of the increasingly intense global environmental crisis, and consolidating the participation of human and social sciences through international platforms (IPBES, UICN); (iii) continuing and developing an ethical reflection on the topic of rights to biodiversity and the related knowledge, especially surrounding the Nagoya Protocol and its integration into research practice; and (iv) making sure that research programme results are delivered and taken up by public institutions and local populations.
The methodological approaches developed by PALOC take account of local stakeholders, of the interweaving scales involved in heritage dynamics, as well as their social, cultural, environmental, legal and political repercussions. They feed into a collective reflection on approaches, and collaborative and participatory research. PALOC research is co-constructed and its modes of delivery are of interest to all the stakeholders involved in the process of heritagisation creation in the North and the South: local communities, regional and national administrative bodies, international bodies, NGOs, private stakeholders, etc.
PALOC is constructed around three scientific strands (Emergence, Appropriation and Uses of Heritage; Globalised Societies and the Environment; Knowledge, Collections and Movement) and transversal work including practical activities (workshops, seminars, reading workshops), teaching and supervision (summer school, Master’s 1 and 2 internships, support for doctoral student research).
REASEARCH AND TRAINING
The members of PALOC are fully committed to the training of students from undergraduate level L2 at Sorbonne Universities, minor pathway, module in “Local Heritage” and L3 at Sorbonne Universities, minor pathway, module in ‘GIS (Geographic information system)”; the Master’s degree in “Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution” (BEE) at MNHN with the steering and teaching of the pathway Museology of Natural and Human Sciences (MSNH); participation in modules of the Society and Biodiversity pathway (SeB); and teaching at the ED227 MNHN-UPMC Doctoral School in “Sciences of Nature and Man: evolution and ecology”. PALOC is a unit which hosts students on the BEE Master’s and doctoral students at the ED227 Doctoral School. The Unit is also committed to providing training during summer schools and seminars in France and in the Global South.