Professor Paul Sillitoe of Durham University said local knowledge may help us manage knowledge more effectively for the planet and humankind in a conference titled “A Review of how intellectual and methodological debates about Indigenous Knowledge have informed Indigenous Knowledge work in Bangladesh” held today (8 January, 2013) jointly arranged by BARCIK and Durham University, UK in Dhaka at Steps Towards Development’s conference room. Academicians, students, development practitioners and BARCIK team members from different ecological zones attended the conference to enrich themselves.
Presenting paper titled “Indigenous Knowledge: Some introductory comments” Professor Paul Sillitoe said local knowledge may help us manage knowledge more effectively for the planet and humankind. He said in many cases, local or indigenous knowledge enriches global sciences. About 25% of medicines in the world is originated from local science. But the knowledge is at stake today due to lack of practice and documentation as well as formulation of IPRs. He said, IPRs may upset balance in science between competition and cooperation and they may upset balance in local communities, ownership confounds communal holding of local knowledge. The more threatening thing is that these acts are not appropriate to protect local knowledge from extinction.
However, in his paper professor Paul Sillitoe discussed lively about the difference between global science and Indigenous Knowledge. According to him, “Indigenous knowledge is any understanding rooted in local culture. It includes all knowledge held more or less collectively by a population that informs interpretation of things. It varies between societies. It comes from a range of sources, is a dynamic mix of past ‘tradition’ and present innovation with a view to the future.” On the contrary, “Global science is an intellectual and practical pursuit that seeks to further understanding of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”. While attempting to show the difference between indigenous knowledge and global science, professor Paul Sillitoe pinpointed that Indigenous knowledge is specific, inductive, informal and participative. On the other hand, global science is universal, theoretical, formal and directive. He said that there is a relation between global science and indigenous knowledge. Indigenous knowledge informs global science. However, in order to cover things associated with indigenous knowledge and global science context professor Pual Sillitoe did discuss about commercialization of knowledge, relation between knowledge and power, reductionism versus holism approaches, sustainable knowledge, learning from others and runaway knowledge as well.
After the presentation, an open discussion took place where participants asked question for clarification and even some shared their works and understanding about indigenous knowledge as well as problems associated with implementation of indigenous knowledge works and their documentation. Among the discussants in the open discussion include Professor AHK Arefin of Dhaka University, Dr. Jahir Ahmed of Jahangirnagar University, Assistant professor Sharmin Shams of Rajshahi University, Sukanta Sen, Executive director of BARCIK, Students of AIUB and BARCIK team members. Earlier, Romaisa Samad, coordinator of BARCIK delivered welcoming speech sharing the works of BARCIK in different ecological zones focusing and emphasizing on indigenous knowledge while Sukanta Sen, Executive director of BARCIK recognized the attachment and contribution of Professor Silliteo behind the journey of BARCIK towards incorporation of indigenous knowledge in contemporary development approaches. A documentary film that covers the story of BARCIK’s activity implementation, working approach and success was shown. At the end, teacher of AIUB Dr. Mahbub Piyal while delivering concluding speech expressed hopefulness that the application as well as systematic documentation of IK in development program and documentation of this knowledge would commence smoothly in near future by the involvement of anthropologists in development works and intervention of non-governmental organizations like BARCIK as well as well directive involvement of the academicians. He thanked the participants for their active participation in the conference.