Indigenous knowledge and the scientific mind: Activism or Colonialism?


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  • Ciencias sociales; Ciencias sociales / Administración pública y ciencia militar
  • Colfuturo
  • © Derechos reservados del autor
  • Amazonas (Colombia)
  • In the first part of this paper selected narratives of early exploration of Northwest Amazonia are analysed with the intention to reveal the values that colonisers and scientist hold at the moment of encountering indigenous peoples. It is argued that these values were transformed and adapted for the development of Economic Botany. The discussion continues on questioning: ‘Were ethnosciences shaped by imperialistic motives?’, ‘Has the ethnology of Northwest Amazonia contributed to intercultural dialogue or has it all been part of a colonialist project of Northwest Amazon?’.
    In the second part of the paper a narrative is presented. The narrative describes a process through which the values of liberal democracy were to be imprinted in indigenous peoples’ organisations of the Colombian Amazonia during the 1990s. Leví-Strauss’ perspective of intervention: “the society we belong to is the only society we are in a position to transform without risk of destroying it” (Levi-Strauss1973: 392) its taken to develop a critical appraisal of the process described.
    The paper finalises with a call for ethnoscientists to consider ‘fair play’ rather than ‘objectivity’ when attempting research in Northwest Amazonia. It is concluded that Amazonia and its indigenous population would gain much if each political actor (including scientists) would express their own subjectivity clearly and without hesitation.
  • Activismo; Amazonía colombiana; Antropología; Desarrollo sostenible; Ecología Política; Políticas de conservación; Reforestación; Religión
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