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close this bookRecording and Using Indigenous Knowledge: A Manual (IIRR, 1996, 211 p.)
close this folderPart 1 Indigenous knowledge and development
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentHow the manual was compiled
View the documentHow to use the manual
View the documentWhat is indigenous knowledge?
View the documentWho knows what?
View the documentCharacteristics of local systems
View the documentWhy is indigenous knowledge useful?
View the documentHelping communities conserve their IK
View the documentUsing indigenous knowledge in development
View the documentRecording IK in communities
View the documentIntellectual property rights

Who knows what?

Types of knowledge...

Older people have different types of knowledge than the young. Women and men, farmers and merchants, educated and uneducated people all have different types of knowledge.

- Common knowledge is held by most people in a community; e.g., almost everyone knows how to cook rice (or the local staple food).

- Shared knowledge is held by many but not all community members; e.g., villagers who raise livestock will know basic animal husbandry.

- Specialized knowledge is held by a few people who might have had special training or an apprenticeship; e.g., only a few villagers will become healers, midwives, or blacksmiths.

... and types of People

The type of knowledge people have is related to:

- Age
- Sex (see question guide Gender and indigenous knowledge)
- Education
- Labor division within the family, enterprise or community
- Occupation
- Environment
- Socio-economic status
- Experience
- History, etc

This has important implications for development work. To find out what people know we must identify the right people to ask. For example, if boys do the herding, they might know better than their fathers where the beet grazing sites are. If we ask the fathers to show us good pastures, we might get only partial information. Development professionals sometimes think that villagers know very little, when in fact the wrong people have been interviewed.