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TEK vs Science.pdf

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McGill University
ANTH 206
Peter Rudiak- Gould

Possible Differences TEK is contextual Science is universal (more or less) TEK is practical and concrete Science is theoretical and abstract TEK --> oral tradition Science is explained in books TEK is implicit bodily knowledge Science is explicit and verbalized TEK --> sphere Science --> globe TEK is static and resistant to new evidence Science is dynamic and open to new evidence TEK doesn't separate fact and value Science separates fact and value (not supposed to be moral statements) TEK gives unlimited scope for agency Science restricts agency to human beings So is TEK Science? Complex question without a single answer Depends on whose TEK we are looking at Why does This Matter? If TEK is static then it becomes maladaptive in today's rapidly changing world local/contextual, then we can't learn larger ecological lessons from it oral, then we shouldn't record it in books implicit and non-verbal, then we shouldn't be concerned about the extinction of languages not open to evidence, then it is maladaptive and thus should be replaced with more empirically based knowledge practical, then it cannot inform us morally Why is TEK being Lost? Severing of contact between old and young Thinking the old way is not modern Urbanization Replacement of subsistence activities by market economies Transfer of authority from local to national governments Extinction of languages Discouragement Assumptions that TEK is static and irrational Doesn't plan for the future Tradition =/= modernization Marginalization of agricultural systems Cash crops are better because they give surplus, which is sold and helps the economy of the country Foraging and nomadism Minimize risks instead of maximizing output The dangers Shifting baseline Failing to notice objectively occurring change If things change slowly enough, you will believe the new states are normal e.g. Deforestation e.g. Chinese paddlefish, stone tablet is Aneyoshi (Japan) TEK Regained Since 1960's (more 1980's-1990's) TEK has been reinvigorated Why the change Indigenous movements Development practitioners have been warmed to TEK Culture is now seen as a resource Ethnobotany is becoming more important Fallback during natural/economical/political disasters Co-management is gaining traction over command-and-control environmental policy Mainstream science is agreeing with "irrational" TEK TEK is being recorded BUT danger of ossification TEK and Climate Change Destruction TEK may be based on certain climatic conditions Solastalgia: becoming a stranger in one's own land Massive population displacements will undermine TEK Reinvigoration Illuminate local impacts of climate change Sometimes registers them because science doesn't Can help people to adapt Greenland Fishing Experts *See case study in course pack* Conclusions There is a diff. between TEK and science Deep and not superficial Savoir/connaître, saber/conocer, sapere/conoscere The diff. can be bridged Anyone can adopt either view Knowledge can be transmitted between the two ways of knowing and they can cooperate to achieve sustainability Climate Change in the Marshall Islands Meeting between scientific and local knowledge Two sources of info 1. Evidence of climate change 2. What they hear from the media Disagreements Some Marshall Islanders are skeptical God's promise not to flood the Earth Those believi
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