Recapturing the status of indigenous knowledge and its relation to Western science

  • Arie Rip University of Twente


Western science has become epistemically and politically correct over the last two or three centuries (in the West, and then elsewhere). Its practical correctness has been underpinned by claims about utility, about technological and other goodies derived from science – a sort of internal cargo cult, but one which is coming under pressure in the risk society. Indigenous knowledge is becoming practically correct (as an as yet insufficiently tapped resource for development) and politically correct (cf. reconciliation). Is it now also epistemically correct? For that matter, how ‘correct’ is Western science here? I will use sociology of knowledge insights to address these questions, after outlining the structure of debate and practice on indigenous knowledge.


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Author Biography

Arie Rip, University of Twente

Arie Rip studied chemistry and philosophy at the University of Leiden, switched to Chemistry and Society teaching and research, and Science, Technology and Society studies more generally. He was guest professor of science dynamics at the University of Amsterdam (1984-1987), and then moved to the Chair in Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Twente. For a time, he was also Visiting Professor at the University of Stellenbosch (1997-2009, 2017-2019). As Emeritus Professor, he continues working on his central research themes: changes in modes of knowledge production (including indigenous knowledge) and their impact on science institutions like universities and funding agencies; technology assessment, in particular constructive technology assessment of nanotechnology; national systems of research and innovation and their evolution.