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While Maasailand is widely studied, very little research is currently undertaken with help and knowledge of the experts themselves, the Maasai community. As is true in many indigenous communities, research in Maasailand is, in the words of Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith, a “dirty word.” No systems exist that require researchers to be accountable to communities that they represent; very seldom are local questions incorporated into research agendas, findings brought back and shared with communities, and in the worst cases, Maasai people and culture is represented in ways that are inaccurate with no recourse by those effected. This lack of accountability erodes the potential for trust and collaboration. Researchers, and especially for large scale research projects, are assumed to exist solely for their own benefit. As a result, researchers rarely receive the assistance, local support and cooperation that would lead to the best results.

However, in spite of this troubled past, it is clear today that research is sorely needed and desired in Maasailand, especially research that incorporates questions of local communities leadership, that can bring the best of science and western knowledge to bear on the challenges and opportunities in Maasailand.

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