TED talks on indigenous knowledge systems

TED talks on IKS

 
These TED talks on indigenous knowledge systems contain a huge range of ideas about this area of knowledge, which we have made more accessible by formulating questions and suggested activities. The resource is aimed primarily at TOK teachers, but it can be used by anyone who wishes to explore the nature of their subject, and ensure that the delivery of the Diploma is as integrated as possible.

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The talks can be viewed directly on this page by clicking on the images below, or you can watch them on the TED site by clicking on the numbered titles. Each talk comes with a set of questions presented on a Word document; these can be downloaded by following the link beneath each talk. For the teacher materials (including an overview of all the talks, and suggested responses to the questions), visit the TED companion page.
 
You can access the rest of the TED companion online by purchasing the resource from this page. If you have already purchased the guide, and have not yet received your password, contact us here.
 

1. Ingenuity and elegance in ancient African alphabets

Saki Mafundikwa, February 2013, 8.06

ABOUT SAFI MAFUNDIKWA

Safi Mafundikwa is a graphic designer who grey up in Zimbabwe, and then returned to the country from New York in his 40s, to set up the Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital (sic) Arts. This works to curate and promote art and design from Africa and Zimbabwe.

WHY IS THIS TALK WORTH WATCHING?

As well as reminding us that within virtually all cultures there is a sophisticated beauty, this talk warns us about the danger of sidelining indigenous knowledge, and ignoring one’s heritage. IKS and history is linked well by Mafundikwa.

QUESTIONS ON THE TALK

Download here
 

2. Hidden music rituals around the world

Vincent Moon, October 2014, 11.39

ABOUT VINCENT MOON

In 2008, Vincent Moon embarked on a trip around the world in order to film the music rituals of as many different indigenous groups as he could encounter. The result was Collection Petites Planètes, a site that can freely accessed and listened to by anyone interested in music and culture.

WHY IS THIS TALK WORTH WATCHING?

This amazing talk does two things: first, it makes us realize the sheer diversity of the musical genius of human beings; second, it provides us with a more meaningful insight into different cultures around the world, going far beyond the headlines of war and violence on which we generally base our perception of unfamiliar places.

QUESTIONS ON THE TALK

Download here
 

3. What the people of the Amazon know that you don’t

Mark Plotkin, October 2014, 16.31

ABOUT MARK PLOTKIN

Mark Plotkin is an ethnobotonist who works mainly in the Central and South American rainforests. He collaborates a great deal with local experts, drawing on the knowledge of local shamans and community leaders to help protect this threatened natural area.

WHY IS THIS TALK WORTH WATCHING?

This talk could form a useful introduction to IKs, demonstrating that our Western approach to medicine – which has a relatively limited brief – is not always superior to that of indigenous societies, which holds a wealth of incredible knowledge about plants and herbs.

QUESTIONS ON THE TALK

Download here
 

4. How societies can grow old better

Jared Diamond, March 2013, 18.11

ABOUT JARED DIAMOND

Jared Diamond is one of the best-known anthropologists currently working, and has written many best selling books such as Guns, Germs and Steel, and The World Until Yesterday. One of his areas of focus is why some civilizations thrive, and others decline.

WHY IS THIS TALK WORTH WATCHING?

Whilst much of this course looks at knowledge that is first order, rather than second order, this is nonetheless a great way of demonstrating that much indigenous knowledge is sophisticated and potentially beneficial to those based in western societies, and used to our more positivist outlook on life.

QUESTIONS ON THE TALK

Download here
 

5. Dreams from endangered cultures

Wade Davis, 2003, 22.05 ★ESSENTIAL TALK★

ABOUT WADE DAVIS

Wade Davis is National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence, and has a vast knowledge of indigenous peoples all over the globe. His research and studies of other cultures is characterized by respect and wonder, enabling him to truly acquire different perspectives through which to view the world.

WHY IS THIS TALK WORTH WATCHING?

You can’t hope for a better introduction to indigenous knowledge systems than this talk by Wade Davis. He truly demonstrates the extraordinary vibrancy, diversity, and sophistication of IKS, and why it is only in danger because of planned destruction by bigger cultures.

QUESTIONS ON THE TALK

Download here