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Indigenous Knowledge within a Global Knowledge System


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Indigenous Knowledge within a Global Knowledge System

  1. 1. Indigenous Knowledge within a Global Knowledge System Indigenous Knowledge within a Global Knowledge System David Che-Wei Lee (Paljaljim Rusagasag) Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh Wednesday, December 6, 2010 at 4:30 PM Room 4130 Wesley W. Posvar Hall, University of Pittsburgh All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 1
  2. 2. Agenda and Time Allocation All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 2 • Background and Motivation • Indigeneity – 1 minute • Indigenous Knowledge – 5 minutes • Indigenous Rights – 2 minutes • Science and Indigenous Knowledge – 5 minutes • Exploring the Interface – 5 minutes • Research Outcomes – 2 minutes • Principles – 5 minutes • Examples: teaching, research, capability, policies, and strategies – 5 minutes • Q & A – 10 minutes
  3. 3. Background and Motive • In response to globalizing forces - Promote universal approaches to knowledge & understanding • Two potential pathways for reactions: - Abandoning the old way versus seeking to re-discover ancient wisdoms • A Third way - Focus on interface between indigenous knowledge and other knowledge systems (science) - The interface recognizes a distinctiveness of different knowledge systems. - To see opportunities for employing aspects of both All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 3
  4. 4. A Misread Definition of Indigenous Peoples • In defining the indigenous peoples in 1949, the United Nations General Assembly noted other characteristics: Among the peoples of the earth, indigenous peoples constitute a vulnerable group which had long been neglected. Their social structures and lifestyles have suffered the repercussions of modern development. They have been subject to growing pressure to bring their languages, religions, knowledge, arts and oral traditions, and the other manifestations of their was of life, into conformity with those of the majority social groups around them. (Howitt et al., 1996, 70) • The primary aim was to regain indigenous values and language, and to exercise a degree of autonomy. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 4
  5. 5. What is “indigeneity?” • The primary characteristic – An enduring relationship between populations, their territories, and the natural environment • Key element – an ecological context for human endeavors All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 5
  6. 6. What is “indigeneity?” (cont’d) • Secondary characteristics (derived from the relationship with the environment): – The relationship endures over centuries. Time – The relationship is celebrated in custom and group interaction. Identity – The relationship gives rise to a system of knowledge, distinctive methodologies, and an environmental ethic. Knowledge – The relationship facilitates balanced economic growth. Sustainability – The relationship contributes to the evolution and use of a unique language. Language All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 6
  7. 7. Why is “Indigeneity” so Important? • Five levels of argument that characterize indigenous peoples have been proposed (for legal purposes). 1. A human rights and non-discrimination 2. A minority rights 3. A claim to self-determination 4. Continue to apply the historical sovereignty 5. An increasing literature regarding being indigenous All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 7
  8. 8. What is indigenous knowledge? • Origin: The relationship between people and the environment therefore forms an important foundation for the organization of indigenous knowledge, the categorization of life experiences, and the shaping of attitudes and patterns of thinking. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 8
  9. 9. How is indigenous knowledge formed? The relationship between people and environment forms a vital foundation for: Organization of indigenous knowledge Categorization of life experiences Shaping of attitudes Patterns of thinking All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 9
  10. 10. The Basis for Indigenous Knowledge According to the celebrated North American indigenous scholar, Vine Deloria, “Most tribes were very reluctant to surrender their homelands to the whites because they knew that their ancestors were still spiritually alive on the land” (Deloria, 1994, 172-173). His comments underline the link between the physical and social environments, but also emphasize the significance of resources as collective and intergenerational, and the importance of land for health and wellbeing. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 10
  11. 11. The Basis for Indigenous Knowledge (cont’d) • “Relationships” form a substrate for indigenous knowledge (Tau, 1999). • Three distinguishing features of indigenous knowledge: – It is a product of a dynamic system. – It is an integral part of the physical and social environment of communities. – It is a collective good. • Maori knowledge draws on observations from the natural environment, and is imbued with a life force (mauri) and a spirituality (tapu) (Solomon, 2005). All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 11
  12. 12. A Question and Challenges for Indigenous Knowledge • Can indigenous knowledge be applied in conjunction with other systems? • Indigenous knowledge is valued because of its traditional qualities, but not the thrust for development and the creative potential of indigenous knowledge. • Applicable only to the distant past or to modern times in parallel with other knowledge systems. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 12
  13. 13. Traditional Medical Treatment and Medication of Paiwan in Taiwan All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 13
  14. 14. The Medical Statement All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 14
  15. 15. Paiwan Stone House All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 15
  16. 16. Contemporary Relevance of Indigenous Rights and Its Knowledge • The Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains 45 articles covering cultural, spiritual, economic, political, and constitutional rights(Working Group on Indigenous Population, 1993). – It requires states to recognize indigeneity by reference to indigenous culture and knowledge, citizenship, the environment, and indigenous autonomy. – It proposes that indigenous peoples should have access to: • the indigenous world with its values and resources, • the wider society within which they live, • a healthy environment, and • a degree of autonomy over their own lives and properties. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 16
  17. 17. ARTICLE 29 has particular implications for the research and development Indigenous peoples are entitled to the recognition of the full ownership, control and protection of their cultural and intellectual property. They have the right to special measures to control, develop and protect their sciences, technologies, and cultural manifestations, including human and other genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs and visual performing arts. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 17
  18. 18. Debate between Science and Indigenous Knowledge • opposition to the promotion of science as the only valid body of knowledge; • the rejection of science in favor of indigenous knowledge; and • the use of tools that are unable to unravel the essential nature of systems of knowledge. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 18
  19. 19. Debate of Methodology All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 19
  20. 20. Opposition to Science and to Scientific Research with Three Concerns First, scientific research has been used to characterize indigenous peoples in ways that reduce their standing in the eyes of other citizens. Second, not infrequently researchers have plundered indigenous knowledge, reconstructed its meaning, and published findings as if they were their own. Third, while analysis into smaller and smaller components is a standard scientific method, indigenous knowledge places greater emphasis on the construction of models where multiple strands can be accommodated to make up an interacting whole. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 20
  21. 21. A Potential Exploration of the Interface • Despite the methodological gulf between the two, there is room for each system to find accommodation by the other without distorting the fundamental values and principles upon which each rests (Taiepa, 1998). • The tools of one are not used: – to analyze and understand the foundations of another – to conclude that a system of knowledge that cannot withstand scientific scrutiny – alternately a body of knowledge that is incapable of locating people within the natural world, lacks credibility (Waldram, 1995, 214-218). • An increasing number of indigenous researchers use the interface between science and indigenous knowledge as a source of inventiveness and, rather than seeking to prove the superiority of one system over another, are more interested in identifying opportunities for combining both. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 21
  22. 22. What will the Research Outcomes at the Interface? • Purpose: create a new knowledge which can be used to advance understanding in two worlds. • Outcomes: gains in economic growth, environmental sustainability, social wellbeing, and cultural integrity. • Measurement: life expectancy – Maori-specific outcome measures have been developed for health interventions and wider developmental programs that impact on the human and resource domains. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 22
  23. 23. Principles for Learning and Research at the Interface • Recognition of the validity of each system of knowledge Mutual Respect • Indigenous communities share benefits of teaching and research including intellectual property and commercialization. Shared Benefits • Cultural and spiritual beliefs and practices are reinforced in teaching and research. • Indigenous world views are not compromised. Human Dignity • Innovation and exploration using indigenous methodologies and scientific methods. Discovery All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 23
  24. 24. Example 1: Teaching at the Interface • The New Zealand Experiences – Teaching adds a Maori perspective to a course usually by inviting a Maori scholar or elder to offer an indigenous viewpoint – Two models of learning are introduced into the course. – Apart from the conventional academic methods, students are able to engage I other forums where learning outcomes depend on active involvement in indigenous formalities and participation in experiential learning modes. – A stay on a tribal center for culture and learning becomes a component of many tertiary courses. • Challenge – The two styles of learning confuse students where there has been inadequate preparation or where their tribal center visit has not allowed sufficient time for any meaningful appreciation of its relevance to the course. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 24
  25. 25. Example 2: Research at the Interface • The Maori Participation Example: – Some research will need to get the approval of the elders, such as the opposition to the collection of blood and urine samples. – In this way, the beliefs of participants will endorsed and anxieties about future misuse of bodily fluids will be minimized. – In the process, non-Maori members of the research team became enthusiastic about the protocols, not only because recruitment opportunities were expanded but also because the significance of the study took on a dimension that had not been previously considered. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 25
  26. 26. Example 3: Indigenous Capability • Indigenous teachers and researchers have a crucial role in straddling the divide between sciences and indigenous knowledge. • They face potential criticism from two fronts (pluralism at the interface will weaken integrity and undermine identity): – Indigenous groups may feel that the indigenous component has simply been added on to standard academic practice, without any fundamental shift in method, and runs the risk of losing sight of an indigenous core. – Academics may complain that unnecessary variables have been introduced which limit the integrity of their studies and confuse scientific principles. • Capability: – More than training individual academics. – The establishment of Ngä Pae o te Märamatanga, a center for research excellence at the Uni. of Auckland in 2002, a focus for interface research across a number of tertiary educational institutes and is actively promoting the development of a large cohort of Maori doctorate graduates. – The aim of the Academy is to promote Maori and indigenous scholarship and to engage in interdisciplinary and interface research. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 26
  27. 27. Example 4: Policies and Strategies • Origin: Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 27
  28. 28. Meaning and Interpretation • The Treaty itself is short, consisting of only three articles. The first article of the English version grants the “Queen of England” (actually the United Kingdom) sovereignty over New Zealand. The second article guarantees to the chiefs full “exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties.” It also specifies that Māori will sell land only to the Crown. The third article guarantees to all Māori the same rights as all other British subjects. • The English and Māori versions differ. This has made it difficult to interpret the Treaty and continues to undermine its effect. The most critical difference revolves around the interpretation of three Māori words: kāwanatanga (governorship), which is ceded to the Queen in the first article; rangatiratanga (chieftainship) not mana(which was stated in the Declaration of Independence just five years before the Treaty was signed), which is retained by the chiefs in the second; and taonga (property or valued possessions), which the chiefs are guaranteed ownership and control of, also in the second article. Few Māori had good understanding of either sovereignty or “governorship,” as understood by 19th century Europeans, and so some academics question whether Māori fully understood that they were ceding sovereignty to the British Crown. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 28
  29. 29. Important Two Different Viewpoints • The English version of the Treaty tends to equate property with physical properties such as land. • The Maori version “also” recognizes cultural properties such as language. • Critique: The Crown’s response to the Treaty has not always been consistent and has fluctuated, focusing sometimes on equality as between individuals and sometimes on the recognition of Maori property rights. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 29
  30. 30. Two Approaches • To increase Maori participation in society: – A range of affirmative action programs have been instituted for Maori individuals undertaking tertiary education and preparing for higher academic qualifications. • To actively protect Maori custom and methodologies: – The Crown regards intellectual knowledge as a property and senses some obligation to protect it. That has led to an acceptance that Maori worldviews have a legitimate place within the wider knowledge society and ought to be factored in to tertiary education and research strategies. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 30
  31. 31. Implications • Paradigms that encourage and enable interface teaching and research require balance between indigenous methodologies ad conventional academic methods associated with higher education. • There is room to explore an interface model as an alternative to the imposition of a single approach. • In the longer term an undifferentiated global model could undermine indigenous contributions to knowledge development. • A more strategic goal might be to increase capability: – A critical mass of indigenous scholars. – The development of academic centers where teaching and research at the interface can lead to the creation of new knowledge and the advancement of indigenous peoples and wider society. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 31
  32. 32. My Critique and Questions • Why did author “only” raise science as a vital point compared with indigenous knowledge? Is science a only form of knowledge for all? • How do you see the indigenous methodologies? • Do you think indigenous knowledge can be part of contents in the higher education? Why or why not? • In your argument, what will indigenous involvement in the higher education and research be like? • In your argument, what will indigenous potential contribution to the science and capacity of indigenous organizations and communities be like? • To make de-colonization successful, Maori has a good foundation with the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 32
  33. 33. The End Thank you for listening, and I look forward to your feedback. All Rights Reserved @ 2010 by Che-Wei Lee 33