The Representation of Indigenous Knowledges

Authored by: Soul Shava

International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415892384
eBook ISBN: 9780203813331
Adobe ISBN: 9781136699313


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One of the key concerns rising among indigenous peoples is the unequal and unjust representation of indigenous or local knowledges in relation to formalized, Western knowledge systems (Agrawal, 1996; Nader, 1996). This concern is directly related to the processes and impacts of colonization still evident even to this day. Concerns with representation include invalidation, devaluation, subjugation, appropriation, misappropriation, misrepresentation, marginalization, primitivization, decontextualization, exclusion, and rejection of indigenous knowledges that has been perpetuated primarily by modern, Western knowledge institutions and researchers (Dei, Hall, & Rosenberg, 2002; Hoppers, 2001, 2002; Hountondji, 1997; Masuku van Damme & Neluvhalani, 2004; Shava, 2000; Smith, 1999). In this chapter, I offer an analysis of some of the modes of representation of indigenous knowledges by modern institutions, with a particular focus on the southern Africa context (see the vignette by Lowan-Trudeau in this section for discussion specific to North American and other contexts).

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