Role of ecology in Sustainable Development


I suggest you take a look at the article by A.Agrawal in the Indigenous Knowledge Monitor (vol. 2, no 3) at

You will find below the introduction of this article. I feel Agrawal's perspective is fairly sound, and I recommend you take a look at the whole article on the IK Monitor WWW site.

Richard Gendron, director

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        Indigenous and scientific knowledge: some critical comments
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The distinction between indigenous and Western/scientific knowledge can present problems for those who believe in the significance of indigenous knowledge for development. This article examines some of the contradictions and ironies involved in accenting the importance of indigenous knowledge, with a view to eliciting a dialogue on the subject. The last part of the article tentatively explores a number of possible ways out of the dilemma.


In the decades since the Second World War, the rhetoric of development has gone through several stages--from its focus on economic growth, to growth with equity, to basic needs, to participatory development, to sustainable development. (Bates, 1988; Black, 1993; Hobart, 1993; Watts, 1993). Today indigenous knowledge is seen as pivotal above all in discussions on sustainable resource use and balanced development (Brokensha et al., 1980; Compton, 1989; Gupta, 1992; Niamir, 1990; Warren, 1990). This orientation is in stark contrast to the views of many earlier theorists, who saw traditional knowledge and institutions as obstacles to development.

The focus on indigenous knowledge clearly heralds a long overdue move. It represents a shift away from the preoccupation with the centralized, technically oriented solutions of past decades, which failed to improve the prospects of most of the world's peasants and small farmers. By highlighting the possible contribution to be made by the knowledge which is in the hands of the marginalized poor, current literature focuses both attention and resources on those who most need them. Recognizing the validity of many of the arguments employed by the theorists of indigenous knowledge, this article attempts to generate a debate on the concept of indigenous knowledge by suggesting that there are certain contradictions and conceptual weaknesses in most of the writings on indigenous knowledge.

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