Reclaiming the Relevance of Knowledge Systems: Interrelation of Science and Knowledge

By Sumathi Rajesh.

Published by The Organization Collection

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Knowledge is the basis for the existence of all animals including man. The only difference is that the animals utilize the knowledge instinctively while man utilizes it rationally. Knowledge is also cumulative. Knowledge generation is a dialectical process and not a linear one.
At a fundamental level, all societies use the knowledge systems generated by them for their basic livelihood needs. New needs are met through the process of developing newer knowledge bases. Though this is the process started to be viewed as lineal and not as alternative. As much as others subjugated some human groups, others subjugate some knowledge systems in the course of human history. Thus there is a hierarchy of knowledge systems.
All knowledge systems are relevant to the society, which develops them, and till a time an alternative is developed out of their volition not out of coercion. In the latter case the live and thriving knowledge systems are referred to as the indigenous knowledge systems and so on. Hierarchical structuring of knowledge systems is reflected and manifested in several ways including the terminology used. This becomes more skewed with so-called globalization. This also tries to mute the pluralism in culture - which is the basis for diversity - including the knowledge systems.
In this paper an attempt is made to bring out these issues through two case studies. Both the case studies represent hierarchical factors of knowledge-systems. One is the case study of the urban-poor and the question of maternal anemia. The second is the traditional snake bite knowledge system of Kurichchan community.

Keywords: Interrelation of Science and Knowledge, ‘Local’ Knowledge System, The Origin of Hierarchy, Case Study, The Community Knowledge System

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.45-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 561.844KB).

Dr. Sumathi Rajesh

Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Madras, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

I am an practising anthropologist, working among the vulnerable communities. In India these communities have been Constitutionally classified as Schedule Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST). In a stratified society they have been completely neglected. I have been nominated by the Government to identify these communities and assigned to look into their welfare.I am teaching at Madras University, and a permanent employee of Department of anthropology. I strongly believe in Participatory approach and would like to generate ‘People’s Ethnography’.


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