Enriching indigenous knowledge: an alternative paradigm for empowerment

  • Mansoor Shahvali Agricultural College of Shiraz University
Keywords: indigenous knowledge, SDGs, knowledge societies, local communities, UNESCO


In 1999, the World Conference on Science has emphasised the role to be played by local and indigenous knowledge (IK) in reconciling scientific, societal, and sustainable development goals. Meanwhile, some external experts believe the concept of IK has gone through a sort of development cycle, in which it was first considered useful and then subsequently seems to have been considered less useful. We should ask ourselves how we could prevent the concept of IK from going through the same cycle of critique and rejection as other concepts such as “sustainable development”, “community-based conservation”, and “participatory development”. What can social researchers do to prevent IK from going in and out of fashion? There is no doubt that IK is essential for the eradication of poverty, as well as the localization of development. However, to be hopeful we should enrich the quality of IK with some theories and methods to empower local individuals and communities by answering three questions: (1) How can one access a knowledge society in the local communities? (2) How can one make linkages between indigenous and scientific knowledge to have a better synergy/integration? (3) How can one evaluate the customary rules and practices that govern IK to revitalise IK transmission from past to present generation and then, on to the future generations? This paper explains and provides some examples of empowering people by putting the ‘Enriching IK Paradigm’ (EIKP) into action in Iran.


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