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Sillitoe - Chapter 05

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On Knowing and Not Knowing

The Many Valuations of Piaroa Local Knowledge

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 argues that this translation, which he calls 'scientization' (1999: 179), changes LK beyond recognition and makes it a tool of those who seek to exert control over marginalised peoples. He thereby suggests that the claim that local knowledge is somehow like science is, in itself, a dangerous misrepresentation. It can lead to an expectation on the part of scientists that 'knowledge' takes a form dictated by their particular disciplinary and theoretical paradigms.1

On Knowing and Not KnowingThe Many Valuations of Piaroa Local KnowledgeSerena HecklerIn 1999, Slikkerveer wrote that local knowledge (LK) had developed 'almost parallel to Western "scientific", ... or "global" disciplinarity' (1999: 169), thereby i
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