Introduction to indigenous knowledge systems
If you are like most IB Diploma students, it’s very likely that you will have already travelled through a lot of towns and cities, visited a good number of countries, met many different people, and spoken (or tried to speak) in various foreign languages. You may pride yourself on how diverse your experiences have been; indeed, encouraging diversity and internationalism is probably one of the proud boasts made by the school in which you are studying, and one of the reasons why your parents decided to send you there.
However, it is also possible that you have managed to experience all these things without having had to operate outside of knowledge systems that are familiar to you, or shift the paradigm through which you view the world in order to make sense of things. Walk down the main street of any major city in the world, and it’s likely to contain cafes and restaurants that you’ll find anywhere else. Enter a clothing store, and you’ll probably be able to use one of the four or five languages that are prevalent in your school to make your purchase.
…it is possible that you have managed to experience all these things without having had to operate outside of knowledge systems that are familiar to you, or shift the paradigm through which you view the world in order to make sense of things.
The nearest multiscreen cinema is almost certainly showing a film you’ve already seen or are meaning to see; the sports news in the newspapers will feature a team that you support; the celebrity faces that are being used to sell magazines will be ones you recognize. This homogenization of cultures is one effect of globalization, and whilst it brings with it many benefits, it also brings problems. One of them is the way in which it subsumes the knowledge, traditions, and identities of the original inhabitants of regions – the indigenous peoples – and it is perhaps with the unstoppable march of fast food chains in mind that the IB have introduced a new area of knowledge for 2015: indigenous knowledge systems (IKS).
This section will focus on indigenous knowledge, but will put it into a wider comparative context, and consider it alongside the kind of knowledge that characterises larger-scale, industrialised societies, commonly referred to a ‘Western’. In other words, the motive for looking at IKS is not only because it will provide us with a rich seam of ideas and theories, but also because it will allow us to consider the knowledge in our own society, and assess whether we really are as ‘advanced’ and ‘developed’ as we think we are.
1. What is your opinion about globalization?
2. Does it represent progress?
3. Who does it benefit?
4. Whose interests should we bear in mind when we assess its effects: the majority? The societies that are driving it? The societies that are impacted by it? Or is it possible to consider all at the same time?