Knowledge for Development

Enhancing innovation between scientific and indigenous knowledge: pioneer NGOs in India


Date: 20/11/2009


Until recently, little attention has been paid to local innovation capacity as well as management practices and institutions developed by communities and other local actors based on their traditional knowledge. This paper doesn't focus on the results of scientific research into innovation systems, but rather on how local communities, in a network of supportive partnerships, draw knowledge for others, combine it with their own knowledge and then innovate in their local practices. Innovation, as discussed in this article, is the capacity of local stakeholders to play an active role in innovative knowledge creation in order to enhance local health practices and further environmental conservation. In this article, the innovative processes through which this capacity is created and reinforced will be defined as a process of "ethnomedicine capacity". The case study analyzed highlights examples of innovation systems in a developmental context. They demonstrate that networks comprised of several actors from different levels can synergistically forge linkages between local knowledge and formal sciences and generate positive and negative impacts. The positive impact is the revitalization of perceived traditions while the negative impacts pertain to the transformation of these traditions into health commodities controlled by new elites, due to unequal power relations.

Authors: M.-C. Torri & J. Laplante, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine October 2009, 5:29

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