Karen people’s interactions with the forest are informed by their ontologies. Important aspects of these ontologies are the influence of spirits, the cycle of the moon and communication with nonhumans. We foreground that Karen ontologies and knowledge systems are heterogeneous yet different from other ontologies and knowledge systems informing forest conservation in Myanmar (Burma). We recognise that interaction between Karen people and other conservation actors needs to be understood in the context of socio-economic and transformative political factors and is affected by spirits and other nonhumans. Based on empirical research, we argue that Indigenous people andconservationists can better support each other if they are each understood concerning their own ontology. This way, spirits and other nonhumans can be recognised as having agency in forest management and governance. We demonstrate how spirits, nonhumans and religious beliefs affect Indigenous ontologies and prompt us to think of ontologies as heterogeneous and overlapping. We conclude that moving past Eurocentric dualisms opens up new ways to think about how different ontologies inform our ideas about what is considered important in makingforest conservation in Myanmar more sustainable and socially equitable.
|Journal||Conservation and Society|
|Early online date||Dec 2022|
|Publication status||Published - 2023|