Indigenous Knowledge: Learning and Sharing for the Humanitarian Industry

Project: AlertExternal partner: HLALinking Preparedness Resilience and ResponseShifting The PowerTransforming Surge Capacity 11th July 2017

This paper provides a literature review on the topic of indigenous knowledge, attending to how learning and circulation can be effective, inclusive and equitable. The first section of this paper therefore critically engages with the key terms of ‘indigeneity’ and ‘indigenous knowledge’. The proceeding sections of the paper offer both critical and pragmatic discussions on the subjects of learning and sharing. These are as follows: (1) its importance in the contemporary moment for the humanitarian sector; (2) the current relationship with exogenous practices in development; (3) how development organisations can support indigenous knowledge initiatives; and (4) how indigenous knowledges and their exogenous practice can be shared with other development stakeholders. This is then followed by explicitly restating the inherent challenges of the learning, exchange and circulation of this knowledge which emerge through these discussions. Taken together, these sections suggest that indigenous knowledge, when properly conceptualised and attending to differences in interests and power, can offer various indigenous peoples and development organisations more effective options for engaging in interventions, allowing for humanitarian practices to be made relevant through their recontextualisation. The paper is concluded with recommendations as to how this sensitivity can be enacted through organisational thought and practice, and suggestions for further study based on the paper’s limitations.


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