Charbel Niño El-Hani


Biography

I am Full Professor at the Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia (Brazil), where I coordinate the History, Philosophy and Biology Teaching Lab. I obtained my Bachelor degree in Biological Sciences from Federal University of Bahia, in 1992; my Master degree in Education from Federal University of Bahia, in 1996; my Doctoral degree in Education from University of São Paulo, Brazil, in 2000. I coordinate the National institute of Science and Technology in Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Studies in Ecology and Evolution (IN-TREE). I coordinate the science popularization initiative Cafe Scientifique Salvador (http://cafecientificossa.blogspot.com) and write in the Blog Darwinianas (https://darwinianas.com/), linked to IN-TREE. My main research interests are: Science Education Research, Philosophy of Biology, Theoretical Biology (especially linked to Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, Conservation and Animal Behaviour) and History of Biology. The investigation I am carrying out in CES is related to one of my main research projects, which focuses on the search for advances in facing the epistemological, ontological, ethical and political challenges confronted by efforts to integrate academic knowledge and other knowledge systems, which have been increasingly common in field like conservation and education. To deal with these challenges, we developed the proposal of a "methodology of partial overlaps"(Ludwig & El-Hani, 2020, Philosophy of Ethnobiology: Understanding Knowledge Integration and Its Limitations. Journal of Ethnobiology), contrasting with overly optimistic approaches (related to philosophical universalism) and overly pessimistic perspectives on knowledge integration, the latter exclusively or mostly focused on incommensurability between distinct cultures and committed to a particularly radical philosophical relativism. The methodology of partial overlaps explores areas of convergence between knowledge systems, and therefore contrasts with generalized claims of radical differences between academic science and all other knowledge systems, and at the same intend also explores areas of divergence in a sociopolitical situated manner, which seeks to lend support to the struggles of the communities with which we work for their self-determination. The goal of searching for partial overlaps between knowledge systems is not to seek any form of validation, but to explore spaces of intercultural dialogue and learning. To reach this goal, a researcher using the methodology of partial overlaps should avoid neo-colonial, paternalist or essentialist attitudes towards other forms of knowledge, but rather embrace an intercultural attitude. To give a clear meaning to an intercultural attitude, we have been developing a political philosophy of knowledge integration. My major goal in CES is to deepen, under the supervision of Prof. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, the political dimension of the methodology of partial overlaps under the light of the many developments that have been taking place in studies on the sociology of absences, epistemologies of the South, ecology of knowledges here in the Center of Social Studies of the University of Coimbra. In particular, I am interested in developing the thesis that an intercultural attitude should be a normative requisite for any initiative using the methodology of partial overlaps, if this methodology is not to collapse into a mere exercise of simply appropriating others' knowledge or assuming that this knowledge needs to be validated from an academic scientific perspective, which is after all just reinforcing the very hierarchies between knowledge systems that the methodology intends to challenge in the first place.