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Communities of knowledge: Science and flood management in Bangladesh

This paper traces the integration of a particular set of knowledge claims into flood management in Bangladesh following the instigation and collapse of the Flood Action Plan. Using the work of Goodbred and Kuehl (1998) as an entry point and partially in response to Nicholls and Goodbred's (2004) call for integrated assessments to improve understanding and management, we explore the incorporation of sedimentation and subsidence knowledge claims into flood management. We approach this issue from a 'scholarly' perspective, tracing the citations and cross-references within academic publications, and from a 'government' perspective, exploring recent policy to determine the degree of consideration for sedimentation, subsidence and their related phenomena (i.e. lateral river erosion, river avulsions, river conveyance). Despite mutual recognition of relevance and widespread support for holistic or interdisciplinary knowledge management, our findings suggest an isolation between the natural and social science communities concerned with flood management. Furthermore, the exploration suggests a similar isolation between government and the sciences. Drawing upon Barry et al.'s (2008) analysis on interdisciplinarity, the findings suggest that different 'logics' might account for the isolation and associated sequestration of knowledge, raising the possibility of improved communication and collaboration among those interested in this increasingly complex and important issue.

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