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Concepts of indigenous environmental knowledge in scientific and development studies literature

This paper critically examines the rhetoric and practice of various academic disciplines with regard to the claims they make for IK and the status they give it.
The paper focuses on:
  • the extent to which IK is still a significant category within Western patterns of production and consumption;
  • the relationship between the major indigenous traditions and the local myriad of smaller folk traditions;
  • the way in which IK is constantly changing;
  • the often contradictory and changing scientific and moral attitudes towards IK; and
  • competing definitions and conceptions of IK in the context of contemporary theory and practice in development and conservation.
The authors higlight the ‘decontextualisation’ of IK as a growing concern. The paper also questions the separation of IK and scientific knowledge. This is an important discussion paper for anyone interested in the future of IK.
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