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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).
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Publication:Borneo Research Bulletin
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2001
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