Heimat’ as a boundary object? Exploring the potentialities of a boundary object to instigate productive science-stakeholder interaction in North Frisia (Germany)


The North Frisian Wadden Sea represents one of the best researched natural regions in the world. Since the end of the 1980s, scientific research has been carried out to scientifically study, analyse and assess this intertidal coastal zone under the conceptual umbrella of ecosystem research. The outcome of this assessment materialised in the establishment of the Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer. Its implementation caused considerable conflicts between coastal inhabitants, national park authorities and government officials. Arguments in these disputes revolved around the validity and relevance of scientific knowledge generated to assess and legitimately protect the tidelands and areas of the Waddensea. In summary, the whole implementation process was locally perceived as a politically endorsed top-down enforcement strategy only allowing scientific knowledge for decision-making purposes while local concerns and ‘knowledges’ were not included. To learn from these developments and past mistakes, we compare concepts of co-management, boundary work and boundary objects (BO) to theoretically and methodologically explore their potentials to generate shared meanings and instigate communication in the context of future managing purposes. Against this theoretical background, we propose the empirical show-case example of the German concept of ‘Heimat’ as a BO to assess its applicability to study place-based meanings and to illustrate it as a practice-oriented point of entry to initiate productive science-stakeholder interaction (SSI) in managing the North Frisian Wadden Sea.
QR Code: Link to publication