Indigenous Knowledge and Scientific Knowledge

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Indigenous peoples Pages: 5 (1606 words) Published: April 9, 2012
In this essay the paradoxes and difficulties associated with the ongoing debate between ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ and scientific knowledge will be thoroughly discussed. An attempt will be made to take a stand and decide whether ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ and ‘Scientific Knowledge’ should have distinct boundaries or whether they are able to co-exist successfully. In order to do this, reference will mainly be drawn from readings by L. Green (2012), M. Leach and J. Fairhead (2002). I will draw on evidence by these authors in order to argue that the distinctions between the two different types of knowledge needs to be destroyed and that they need to be able to co-exist so that differentiation is acknowledged, therefore safeguarding the interests of minority groups and cultures. Finally, I hope to show that it is vital to be aware that in today’s world there is not simply one type of knowledge and recognising that the idea of different knowledge systems that people believe in are dynamic and constantly changing. ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ is knowledge associated with and shared by a specific culture. It is accumulated over generations of living in a particular environment (Warren 1991:23). It could possibly in most cases be the basis for “ local decision making in rural communities”( www. In contrast to ‘Scientific Knowledge’, native people who live a traditional lifestyle come to understand their natural environment by experiencing things. Their daily observations and interactions with nature offer a deep and sincere awareness that is holistic and rooted in their cultural understandings, which are shared orally and passed from generation to generation, often in the form of stories. While ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ is sometimes seen as completely different to ‘Scientific Knowledge’, the two are able to complement each other in order to provide a broader understanding of the world. ‘Scientific Knowledge’ is knowledge which is obtained through applying process of the scientific method to things in the world around us in order to prove their existence and truth. (Banuri 1993: 329)  Scientists usually justify the distinction between ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ and ‘Scientific Knowledge’ by saying that science is a term and a type of knowledge known worldwide but ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ is knowledge known only by a particular culture and relates to the way they perceive the world. ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ is mainly perceived as a different type of knowledge and one that is less efficient because it does not fit the same criteria.  Since the second World War the question of a country’s growth has evolved through many stages; economic growth and sustainable development (Bates 1988: 167). One of the more sophisticated words that have now begun to take over the ‘informal’ dictionary of development experts is ‘Indigenous Knowledge’. In the areas in which ‘Western Science’ has been unsuccssful, local knowledge is often viewed as the best alternative strategy in the solving issues like hunger and poverty. (Atte 1992: 22) In previous environments, experts of development saw ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ as unproductive, substandard, and a problem to economic growth. Contemporary perspectives about ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ recognizes that these disparaging assumptions of traditional knowledge may be unfounded. Simply put, the term ‘Indigenous Knowledge’ emerged from the process of finding solutions for the past that was not able to change life for the disadvantaged individuals in the world while using Scientific Knowledge. “Ten years ago, most of the academics working in the area of indigenous knowledge represented anthropology, development sociology, and geography. Today, important contributions are also being made in the fields of ecology, soil science, veterinary medicine, forestry, human health, aquatic science, management, botany, zoology, agronomy (the study of soil management and crop production),...
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