Representing and coordinating ethnobiological knowledge

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84 (C):101328 (2020)
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Indigenous peoples possess enormously rich and articulated knowledge of the natural world. A major goal of research in anthropology and ethnobiology as well as ecology, conservation biology, and development studies is to find ways of integrating this knowledge with that produced by academic and other institutionalized scientific communities. Here I present a challenge to this integration project. I argue, by reference to ethnographic and cross-cultural psychological studies, that the models of the world developed within specialized academic disciplines do not map onto anything existing within traditional beliefs and practices for coping with nature. Traditional ecological knowledge is distributed across a heterogeneous array of overlapping practices within Indigenous cultures, including spiritual and ritual practices that invoke categories, properties, and causal-explanatory models that do not in general converge with those of the academic sciences. In light of this divergence I argue that we should abandon the integration project, and conclude by sketching a notion of knowledge coordination as a possible successor framework.



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Daniel Weiskopf
Georgia State University

References found in this work

Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Natural Kindness.Matthew H. Slater - 2015 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (2):375-411.

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