Original Research

Twelve Monkeys, the Kassandra dilemma and innovation diffusion: transdisciplinary lessons for animal and environmental activism

Sarah Rutherford Smith
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 10, No 1 | a11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v10i1.11 | © 2014 Sarah Rutherford Smith | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2016 | Published: 30 July 2014

About the author(s)

Sarah Rutherford Smith, Department of Jurisprudence, College of Law, Unisa, South Africa

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Animal activists and environmental activists believe that the world and its inhabitants face devastating consequences in the future if behaviour towards and the treatment of animals and the environment do not change. However, despite their predictions many people are not swayed to change their behaviour. This article suggests that these activists experience what is known as Kassandra’s dilemma; the conundrum of knowing what the future holds but being unable to prevent events from happening. Drawing on the film, Twelve Monkeys and Greek mythology this article explores this mythological dilemma and explains how this dilemma is a lived experience for activists. The article suggests that activists can resolve Kassandra’s dilemma by taking a transdisciplinary approach towards animal and environmental activism. Thus, in order to escape Kassandra’s dilemma the article suggests that animal and environmental activists require transdisciplinary knowledge; knowledge of the actual and potential harm done to animals and the environment and how this can be prevented as well as knowledge on how to successfully convey this knowledge to others. The article highlights innovation diffusion theory as an example of the type of transdisciplinary knowledge that could assist in escaping from Kassandra’s dilemma and in order to better advocate on behalf of animals and the environment.


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