Darko Lagunas León (1987) is a Dutch socio-environmental researcher who participated in our pilot program as part of a greater investigation into how the worldviews of indigenous peoples can inform more inclusive sustainability models and practices.
After finishing his master studies (urban sociology) at the University of Amsterdam, Darko has been working as head researcher for Fawaka Nederland- a Dutch start-up aimed at diversity, sustainability and entrepreneurship, bridging the knowledge-gap between social- and ecological sustainability. In an article published on Oneworld, Darko talks about his research - carried out together with Fawaka founder Thiëmo Heilbronn - on how ‘our sustainable future’ seems mostly designed by white, highly educated, influential Dutch people with important business positions.
‘If we do not want to reproduce the colonial heritage where the West speaks at the expense of the rest (and the Earth), it is essential to study alternative ways of being and doing. There is much to learn from anthropogenic philosophers like Timothy Morton, Bruno Latour and Donna Haraway. But (perhaps) there is even more to learn from the worldviews of indigenous groups. For example the Quechua concept of ‘sumak kawsay’ (or ‘buen vivir’), where the starting point is harmony with nature and the collective instead of the individual. It presents a critique on capitalist ideas of progress and development, and creates a space for alternative thinking.'
During February to June 2019 Darko traveled along the Andes mountains - focusing on Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile – to study the ways in which indigenous groups engage with environmental issues. What are the frames of reference they use to make sense of the natural environment? What are their problem representations considering the natural environment? And how do they conceptualize ‘sustainable solutions’?
‘I want to use these answers to reflect on how sustainability is conceptualized in modern capitalist societies, provide insights on how to redefine our relation with ‘nature’, our sense of community, and seek practices that disrupt destructive capitalist ways of being and doing… However, making stories about indigenous communities is not an innocent universal act: it is a risky proposition full of contingencies and histories of conquest, resistance, recuperation and resurgence.’