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Local Science Vs Global Science

Local Science Vs Global Science: Approaches to Indigenous Knowledge in International Development

Edited by Paul Sillitoe
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Local Science Vs Global Science
    Book Description:

    While science has achieved a remarkable understanding of nature, affording humans an astonishing technological capability, it has led, through Euro-American global domination, to the muting of other cultural views and values, even threatening their continued existence. There is a growing realization that the diversity of knowledge systems demand respect, some refer to them in a conservation idiom as alternative information banks. The scientific perspective is only one. We now have many examples of the soundness of local science and practices, some previously considered "primitive" and in need of change, but this book goes beyond demonstrating the soundness of local science and arguing for the incorporation of others' knowledge in development, to argue that we need to look quizzically at the foundations of science itself and further challenge its hegemony, not only over local communities in Africa, Asia, the Pacific or wherever, but also the global community. The issues are large and the challenges are exciting, as addressed in this book, in a range of ethnographic and institutional contexts.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-210-2
    Subjects: Environmental Science, Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-ix)
  6. List of Contributors
    (pp. x-xii)
  7. 1 Local Science vs. Global Science: an Overview
    (pp. 1-22)
    Paul Sillitoe

    Relativity is a relative idea. There is the physical scientists’ notion of relativity, which is of global relevance, and there is the social scientists’ notion of relativity, which is of local relevance. Just as physicists argue that classical scientific laws are a special case that apply to planet Earth only – varying with mass, speed, time and such – so too anthropologists maintain that scientific theories are a special case rooted largely in contemporary Euro-American understanding of the world – varying with culture, history, place and so on. We assume that our scientific view is one way of explaining our...

  8. 2 Traditional Medical Knowledge and Twenty-first Century Healthcare: the Interface between Indigenous and Modern Science
    (pp. 23-40)
    Gerard Bodeker

    In the assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO), the majority of the population of most developing countries regularly use and rely on traditional medicine for their everyday healthcare needs. At the same time, policy and regulation in support of this social and public health reality are still in an early stage of formation in most countries (Bodeker et al. 2005).

    In response to a call from member countries to give greater emphasis to traditional medicine policy development, the World Health Organization’s Traditional Medicines Strategy 2002–2005 was formed to focus on four areas identified as requiring action if the...

  9. 3 Local and Scientific Understanding of Forest Diversity on Seram, Eastern Indonesia
    (pp. 41-74)
    Roy Ellen

    Foresters, biogeographers and tropical forest ecologists have devised increasingly sophisticated classifications of forest types (e.g. Eyre 1980). Forest ‘types’ and their more localised and discrete components, which might variously be described as ‘habitats’, ‘niches’, ‘biotopes’ and ‘ecotones’, constitute what ecologists understand by ‘secondary biodiversity’: that is diversity in terms of associations of species rather than the (‘primary’) diversity measured in terms of the numbers of species (or other taxanomic categories). Although the classifications of foresters in particular have been largely determined by the practical considerations of the industry, during the latter part of the twentieth century they have been much...

  10. 4 ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Scientific’ Knowledge in Central Cape York Peninsula
    (pp. 75-90)
    Benjamin R. Smith

    During my doctoral fieldwork in central Cape York Peninsula I spent a considerable amount of time moving between the township of Coen and a number of ‘outstations’ in its hinterland. (‘Outstations’ are small camps established by family groups on land with which they have ‘traditional’ ties). The men and women with whom I was working also used their frequent journeys between Coen and outstations to visit other important places en route. One such place – visited only by men – was referred to as a ‘chemist[’s]shop’ in local Murri (Aboriginal) English.¹ Traditional plant ‘medicines’ were gathered at this place...

  11. 5 On Knowing and Not Knowing: the Many Valuations of Piaroa Local Knowledge
    (pp. 91-108)
    Serena Heckler

    In 1999, Slikkerveer wrote that local knowledge (LK) had developed ‘almost parallel to Western “scientific”, ... or “global” disciplinarity’ (1999: 169), thereby imbuing local knowledge with the prestige often attributed to science. This claim that LK is rational and empirical is at the root of the participatory development approach championed by the likes of Chambers et al. (1989) and Warren et al. (1995). However, Agrawal (1995, 1999) points out that this claim is intensely value-laden and contributes to the assumption that a local system of knowledge can be accurately ‘translated’ into terms that are acceptable to scientists. In fact, Agrawal...

  12. 6 The Ashkui Project: Linking Western Science and Innu Environmental Knowledge in Creating a Sustainable Environment
    (pp. 109-128)
    Trudy Sable, Geoff Howell, Dave Wilson and Peter Penashue

    Intuitively, it seems impossible to talk of development without the inclusion and consultation of the people whose lives will be affected, aboriginal or not. Furthermore, aboriginal populations have a wealth of knowledge accumulated over centuries of living in their regions that can enhance government efforts to protect the environment. The obligation to protect and include aboriginal communities as part of environmental conservation and sustainable development initiatives is enshrined in several international declarations, including the Rio Declaration and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), as well as Canadian legislation and declarations (Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999). However, the relationship between scientific...

  13. 7 Globalisation and the Construction of Western and Non-Western Knowledge
    (pp. 129-154)
    Michael R. Dove, Daniel S. Smith, Marina T. Campos, Andrew S. Mathews, Anne Rademacher, Steve Rhee and Laura M. Yoder

    Anthropological interest in non-Western knowledge dates from the very beginning of the discipline. Early anthropologists interested in the so-called ‘savage’ or ‘primitive’ mind asked, in effect: do non-Western peoples think differently from Western peoples and, if so, how? In the years since, this question has periodically surfaced, been critiqued, submerged and reappeared. A recent incarnation – and one of particular importance to the reigning paradigms of global conservation and development – involves non-Western, indigenous environmental knowledge.

    Anthropological interest in indigenous systems of resource management also dates back to the early years of the discipline, and especially flourished with the rise...

  14. 8 Science and Local Knowledge in Sri Lanka: Extension, Rubber and Farming
    (pp. 155-174)
    Mariella Marzano

    Efforts to incorporate local knowledge into natural resource management are growing in Sri Lanka, following a shift in emphasis from ‘top-down’ technology transfer to more collaborative approaches. Although attractive in principle, these efforts are often fraught with difficulties. Here, I consider the relationship between Western-based ‘global’ science and local or traditional knowledge in Sri Lanka as mediated through farmer extension services. The ideology and practices of ‘outsiders’ have largely governed development in Sri Lanka, from British colonial welfare policies to a succession of ‘poverty alleviation’ programmes instigated by international donor agencies. Sri Lanka has a long relationship with global science...

  15. 9 Creating Natural Knowledge: Agriculture, Science and Experiments
    (pp. 175-190)
    Alberto Arce and Eleanor Fisher

    Contemporary anthropology has contributed to a process of reflection on the possibilities and limitations of science, helping to identify the significance of non-scientific knowledge – e.g., indigenous, traditional, and local – in people’s understandings of the world (e.g., Warren et al. 1995; Richards 1985; Sillitoe 1998; Ellen and Harris 2000). This has served to underline that processes of knowledge creation and negotiation do not simply belong to a scientific domain. To critically reflect on the boundaries of knowledge and to go ‘beyond science’ suggests that anthropology can play a role in the development of conceptual approaches that capture and expose...

  16. 10 Is Intellectual Property Protection a Good Idea?
    (pp. 191-208)
    Charles Clift

    The issue raised in this chapter does not relate to the debate about the scientific status of traditional knowledge in the eyes of the ‘modern’ scientific tradition,² or vice versa.³ It is assumed, as also seems widely accepted, that traditional knowledge has an important role to play in contributing to the progress of science, and to its application to improve human health and welfare. Traditional knowledge is complementary rather than competitive with modern science. Each has something to learn from the other, as argued by several other contributors to this volume. The holistic and systemic worldview of traditional knowledge, which...

  17. 11 Farmer Knowledge and Scientist Knowledge in Sustainable Agricultural Development: Ontology, Epistemology and Praxis
    (pp. 209-230)
    David A. Cleveland and Daniela Soleri

    What comprises local scientific knowledge of traditional or indigenous farmers (FK) and formal global scientific knowledge (SK)? How similar are they? What is ‘sustainable’ agriculture and what roles should FK and SK play in sustainable agricultural development? Who determines these roles and what effect does the assignment of roles have on the success of development projects? These are some of the questions that we have been asking ourselves and others during our years spent working with farmers and scientists in applied research and development in many locations around the world.

    Conventional agriculture is widely acknowledged to be unsustainable, and more...

  18. 12 Forgotten Futures: Scientific Models vs. Local Visions of Land Use Change
    (pp. 231-256)
    Robert E. Rhoades and Virginia Nazarea

    The future is a central theme in the global agendas of sustainability science and sustainable development. After decades of short-term research and planning based on three- to five-year project budgeting plans or annual cropping cycles, scientists underAgenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Developmentwere mandated to shed light on sustainability’s central question of ‘preserving for future generations the same opportunities available to our generation’ (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987: 8). One limitation of conventional development, and the underlying science, has been the discounting of long-term negative impacts on the environment of short-run human goals, behaviour, and...

  19. 13 Counting on Local Knowledge
    (pp. 257-278)
    Paul Sillitoe

    In New Guinea, people do not count far. Some languages only have two words for numerals – one and two – and some have no words for numbers at all. It will probably strike persons reading a collection of papers originating at a British Association for the Advancement of Science annual festival to celebrate and advertise the achievements of science, with its associated sophisticated mathematical logic and computational power, as ridiculous to suggest that such numerical schemes can teach us anything. But that is exactly the sort of thing that those of us advocating attention to local knowledge are arguing,...

  20. Index
    (pp. 279-288)