Indigenous environmental knowledge and its transformations.
Dove, Michael R., 2000, The life-cycle of indigenous knowledge, and
the case of natural rubber production. In: Roy Ellen, Peter Parkes, Alan
Bicker, eds., Indigenous environmental knowledge and its
transformations. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers, pp. 213-251.
Departing from his study of the indigenous knowledge system of
smallholder cultivators of para rubber in Kalimantan, the author
considers two different views of indigenous knowledge. The first is that
for a long time indigenous knowledge has been ignored as a consequence
of the preference for modem, scientific knowledge over local,
traditional knowledge, but that the new study of indigenous knowledge
will have positive effects. The other view questions the genuineness of
this critique on the preference for modem knowledge and contends that
emphasizing the difference between scientific knowledge on the one hand
and traditional knowledge on the other is just another
"self-privileging antinomy" (as there are many in
anthropological theoretical discourse). The rubber case shows that when
the epistemic origins of this indigenous knowledge system are revealed,
the validity of the label "indigenous knowledge" may become
questionable. It turns out that the knowledge system is rather hybrid,
and its representations co ntested by the different parties involved.
The author not only criticizes the concept of indigenous knowledge, but
also places this critique in a wider intellectual framework, showing
that indigenous knowledge may be analyzed through "its life-cycle
of initial reception and utility followed by subsequent rejection and
disunity." With this heuristic use of the concept it becomes clear
that the way in which Western scholars, including anthropologists,
conceive of indigenous knowledge also tells us something about the way
they conceive of knowledge in general (EI, Rosemary Robson-McKillops).