The geopolitics of knowledge construction

Poor countries and poor people differ from rich ones not only because they have less capital but because they have less knowledge. Knowledge is often costly to create and that is why much of it is created in industrial countries. 

– World Bank, World Development Report 1998/1999.

. . . .

Consider also the irony behind  the fact that the knowledge of periphery scholars on their own communities is margnalized while that of centre scholars enjoys repute.  . . . Implicit in this situation is the irony that while those who may have never lived extensively  in the periphery become authorities on our affairs, the knowledge of local people who live this reality intimately is untapped, unknown and disregarded.

from Suresh  Canagarajah’s  A Geopolitics of Academic Writing.

A slightly related thought occurred to me after an exhausting class discussing Chomsky, the native speaker fallacy and its fiction of homogeneity:

The real native speakers of Telugu (if indeed we can call anyone that!) are probably illiterate. Would we even bother with their knowledge?

The centre-periphery divide is everywhere. Everywhere.

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3 Comments »

  1. That knowledge only exists in industrial countries can be argued. The knowledge of the local people is tacit and therefore insightful. Such knowledge is limited since its objective is to make people self-sufficient within a geographical area.

    A study shows that deaf children in Nicaragua have created their own gesture system to communicate among themselves.

    http://news.uchicago.edu/news.php?asset_id=1544>Read this article

    You write even better now. I had a super sunday evening reading the posts. Thank you.

  2. Sanjay:

    Oye! Such a pleasant surprise to see you here.

    “That knowledge only exists in industrial countries can be argued”

    Yes, indeed. I put that quote there just to show its inherent bias. As PK used to tell us (so memorably!) sometimes words are self-evident. No comment reqd!

    Thanks for the link.

    Glad you like the blog. Specially since you know all the ups and downs of my writing!

  3. I miss not working with you and PK anymore. Have a great week.

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