Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and the Politics of Postcolonial Writing


How do humans come to know the environment? How can scholars evaluate different understandings of the natural world? In this article, Clapperton tackles these questions in the context of Indigenous knowledge and the politics of (post)colonialism by analyzing three narrative frameworks that measure Indigenous and non-Indigenous claims to know the environment. The three frameworks—one that holds that Indigenous knowledge is superior to Western scientific knowledge, one that calls for “knowledge integration,” and one that holds that Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge are incommensurable—each have advantages, but, Clapperton argues, they reinforce a binary between Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge and keep salvage paradigms alive. He therefore calls for an enlarged definition of Indigenous knowledge that could account for boundary-crossing and Indigenous people “doing” science.