chapter  6
Globalizing indigenous knowledge PAU L SILLI TO E
ByPaul Sillitoe
Pages 31

What is indigenous knowledge? I have heard this question many times since becoming directly involved in international development work, asked both by sceptical social scientists and curious natural scientists, not to mention puzzled bureaucrats, technocrats and policymakers. The sceptics ask if there is such a field, and some even argue that it is improper to suggest there is.This questions the existence and propriety of the discipline of anthropology, as I understand it. Can it be that we have not only been engaged in a thoroughly dubious enterprise but have even been deluding ourselves by giving credence to the non-existent? It sounds like the ultimate postmodern denouement.The large number of terms vying for prominence as the more correct to label this field, whatever it is, are symptomatic of the confusion voiced: local knowledge, citizen science, traditional knowledge, folk science, people’s knowledge, among others (DeWalt 1994;Antweiler 1998; Purcell 1998).