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Social-ecological resilience in indigenous coastal edge contexts

Monica E. Mulrennan, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University, Montréal
Véronique Bussières, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University, Montréal


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Cultural edges, as sites of encounter and interaction between two or more cultural groups, tend to result in increased access to knowledge, skills, and material goods. First proposed more than a decade ago as an elaboration of the ecological edge concept, we suggest that cultural edges merit closer attention, particularly in relation to the complex histories and diverse processes of interaction indigenous communities have had with outsiders, including settlers and other indigenous groups. Our analysis is focused on the coastal Cree Nation of Wemindji, Eeyou Istchee, northern Québec (Canada) where multiple ecological and cultural edges have provided increased access to harvesting resources as well as expanded opportunities for social interaction and partnerships, knowledge and technology transfer, and economic diversification. As the locus within indigenous social-ecological systems where strategies for resistance and adaptation to disturbance and change are applied, including active enhancement of edge benefits, the concept of edges contributes to our understanding of the social, cultural, and ecological processes that shape indigenous territories and contribute to enhanced social-ecological resilience.

Key words

cultural edge; ecological edge; indigenous; James Bay Cree; resilience; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087