Blazing a trail while lazing around: knowledge processes and woodfuel paradoxes?

Using autobiographical experience with reference to woodfuel research in two locations in West Africa, this paper illustrates how knowledge processes influence what can be produced as knowledge; how such knowledge is actually produced; and what is eventually produced as knowledge. However, although it explores the various roles which knowledge plays in the social relations at particular historical moments in the personal and professional development of a single individual, the questions this subjective experience raises are of wider import: whose knowledge matters? how do certain knowledges get suppressed or are denied, while others are privileged? In turn, this raises additional questions concerning the ways in which research and practice are mediated through local research, policy, and development prisms. In a general sense, the paper is about the way in which woodfuel philosophies, methodologies, and practices are constructed, modified, and maintained in existence as knowledge; and a reminder that such knowledge processes cannot truly be understood in isolation, but need to be situated within complex, diversified contexts of individual agendas, group strategies, etc, as well as in multiple sites of production.