Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen & Irja Seurujärvi-Kari – Introduction: Theorizing Indigenous Knowledge(s)

Introduction: Theorizing Indigenous Knowledge(s) (PDF)

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This article examines strengths, challenges, and limitations in the practice of theorizing Indigenous knowledge(s) as a scholarly practice. Our overall aim is to contribute to the discussion on theory in Indigenous studies. Theorizing Indigenous knowledge engages critically with local concepts and ideas that draw from different experiences and standpoints. These often point to place-based knowledge as well as diverse ways of regenerating Indigenous knowledge(s), both orally and nonverbally. This article also discusses objectivity in theorizing Indigenous knowledge(s) and the limitations in knowledge-production when it engages with a collectivity and nonhuman actors. It shows how theorizing Indigenous knowledge(s) within Indigenous paradigm has to be looked at critically: the knowledge of diverse historical processes, oppression, power relations, as well as the ownership of Indigenous knowledge are a crucial part of this analysis. The article argues that over-generalizing or essentializing Indigenous knowledge can only weaken its legitimacy and validity, and instead research on Indigenous knowledges should work within Indigenous paradigm.

Keywords: Indigenous knowledge(s), plurality, Indigenous standpoints, place-based knowledge, endangerment and revitalization, Indigenization, Indigenous studies

Volume 2019 / Issue 2