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Lecture 16 Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).

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1 Lecture 16 Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)

2 Indigenous. Traditional Local

3 Indigenous: descendants from the original occupants of a certain region. Saami are indigenous, neighbouring Finns are not. BUT: Why would knowledge of a Saami and of a Finn who were born and brought up in the same area differ? turns knowledge into a heritable property. But knowledge is fashioned through the course of peoples lives.

4 Traditional This term implies distance and denies development. Traditional is something that is far, not contemporary. Distant is good; contemporary, tainted with modernity, is bad. Tradition is conventionally opposed to science.

5 Local local is too broad and politicised. Includes a variety of groups with proliferating self- designations.

6 Bourdieu Language and Symbolic Power Questions how we came to frame everyday practices as homogenous and autonomous knowledge No reflection on social, historical and political conditions of the process Twentieth century scholarship treats knowledge as something neutral If we want to know how indigenous knowledge proliferated, we need to concern ourselves with the social conditions under which such knowledge becomes defined, produced, reproduced, and distributed

7 Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Acknowledgement of alternative cultural constructions of the environment The notion has emerged during the 1980s as part of a well-meaning attempt to re- empower local communities whose voices and interests had been marginalised by the dominant discourse of science-based modernisation and development.

8 Indigenous knowledge has always served as a foil for concepts of Western rationality (Cruikshank 1998). Primitive superstition, savage nobility, empirical practical knowledge, ancestral wisdom. In the late twentieth century, the same ideas are re-incarnated as knowledge.

9 Cruikshank (1998) demonstrates different strands of discussion of indigenous knowledge: –resource management and sustainable development; –indigenous organisations negotiating with different levels of state government Overwhelming impression is that indigenous knowledge is essentially uncomplicated, that acquiring it is a classification exercise.

10 Two axioms: Native Americans lived in harmony with nature before arrival of Europeans.This view ignores native perception of animals as renewable resource. Ignores opportunistic strategies. If people in indigenous societies have respectful attitude toward the environment, and behave accordingly. Romanticism. Overly simple understanding of the relation between ideology, norms, and behaviour.

11 Paul Nadasdy: The Politics of TEK The initial idea was: to collect and document traditional ecological knowledge and integrate it with scientific knowledge of the environment. But little success to integrate traditional and scientific knowledge. Why?

12 Traditional knowledge Qualitative Intuitive Holistic Oral Scientific knowledge Quantitative Analytical Reductionist Literate

13 What are the reasons then? 1.TEK became a politically expedient thing 2.Terms like sustainable development, ecological crisis do not have analogues in Native American languages. Institutionalising such official language will set bad precedents of redefining Native cultures through Western cultures. Morrow and Hensel: term traditional. 3.Knowledge. Traditional knowledge is for aboriginal people is a way of life.

14 4. Compartmentalisation of TEK. Western science is compartmentalised: social science, natural science, pure science, applied etc. Forestry expert, water expert, mining expert. But knowledge in the bush has to be holistic, not separated. 5. Distillation of TEK. Knowledge has to be converted into numbers and should be expressed numerically.

15 What constitutes knowledge? Knowledge in hunting societies is encoded at critical points in a belief system, sustained over centuries, that conceptualises animals and humans as sharing a common world and their connections as mutually sustaining. When it becomes incorporated into a Western framework, it is reconstituted to formalize relationships between people and becomes embedded in hierarchy and inequality…Knowledge is not amenable to direct questions, nor can it be easily formulated as a set of rules. It must be demonstrated so that others can see how it is used in practice. Such knowledge is a relational concept, more like a verb than a noun, more process than product, and it can easily be construed as a written, formally encoded, reified product (Cruikshank 1998: 69-70).

16 Knowing is a concept which is not codified but is demonstrated by example (Anderson 2000: 117). A person performing his/her knowledge competently earns respect and gains status. In learning process – usurpation of tasks is humiliating, but also removes opportunity to demonstrate knowledge.

17 Knowledge involves an interpersonal relationship with animals. Kwon (1993): hunters do not reveal their hunting intentions so that not to scare the animals. Knowledge of hunting is also in skilled concealment of human qualities. To learn to hunt you have to learn from a cunning fox (Kwon 1993: 121).

18 Fundamental difference: - Western tradition is preoccupied with analytic and theoretical ways of knowing, episteme, devaluing and misrepresenting practical and contextual knowledge. -But: knowledge means engagement in a skilful act. Rosaldo (1987) example of the basketball game.

19 Can TEK and science be integrated? Solution: devolution of control over local land and resources to aboriginal communities As long as ultimate decisions over the land are held in remote centres, local ways of life will continue to be undervalued or ignored. Scientist would not define and drive the process of resource management but would act as a resource.

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