chapter  8
Indigenous knowledge, power and parity
Models of knowledge integration
ByTrevor Purcell, Elizabeth Akinyi Onjoro
Pages 27

Responding to Sillitoe (1998a) on indigenous knowledge development as a ‘new applied anthropology’, Posey noted that ‘there will be nothing “new” if we do not develop new methodologies for dialogue with local knowledge holders. And those will not emerge’, he notes, ‘until indigenous peoples have political and economic parity with development forces – and anthropologists’ (1998: 241). This call for parity raises many questions, one of which is: how can indigenous peoples assert their traditional cultural values – which may promote a sort of minimalist, sustainable adjustment with their environment – and achieve economic and political parity with those dominating forces whose guiding values promote maximalist, unsustainable development? Parity, taken at face value, in a globalized world, must involve more equal relations with the local state, as well as with the international industrial order. Furthermore, given the nature of those relations, parity for indigenous peoples is likely to engender their sociocultural shift within the global political-economic hierarchy toward the state and the industrial West, rather than those entities (the West) shifting towards the position of the indigenous peoples.Were this to occur, political, and particularly economic, parity would seem to be counter-productive to the aims of the integration of indigenous knowledge,1 given the nature of the structure of power relations within states and within the global community.Theoretically, parity would pull indigenous culture toward a Western, less sustainable way of life – against which most indigenous knowledge traditions position themselves.