“We Dance Around in a Ring and Suppose”: Academic Engagement with Traditional Knowledge

Henry P. Huntington


The concept of “traditional knowledge” describes not a single entity, but a diverse and complex set of ways of knowing. Debates about the appropriateness of particular approaches to the study of traditional knowledge may miss the point in conflating not only the various forms of traditional knowledge, but also the different ways in which academic study engages that knowledge. Rather than seeking resolution in favor of a particular approach to the study of traditional knowledge, we should recognize that different ways of studying traditional knowledge are more a product of different academic perspectives than of qualities inherent to traditional knowledge. In this view, different approaches are entirely appropriate, if they suit the particular purposes for which traditional knowledge is sought. Instead of seeking to find the “right” way to study traditional knowledge, we should be clearer about our aims, assess each study in its own light, and learn from the various experiences researchers have had with different approaches.

  • Henry P. Huntington, 23834 The Clearing Drive, Eagle River, Alaska 99577

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