Human Ecology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 193–204

The Biodiversity Discourse: Categorisation of Indigenous People in a Mexican Bio-prospecting Case

Authors

    • Norwegian College of Fisheries Science
  • Marte Qvenild
    • Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10745-010-9305-7

Cite this article as:
Bjørkan, M. & Qvenild, M. Hum Ecol (2010) 38: 193. doi:10.1007/s10745-010-9305-7

Abstract

Indigenous knowledge is often portrayed as static and traditional, while indigenous people are considered victims of exploitation. In the name of development and empowerment NGOs as well as scientists may run the risk of representing indigenous communities that fit their definition of the “correct” way to be indigenous. However, for indigenous people knowledge is not necessarily a static condition in a binary position to science or the ‘modern’ world. Rather, it is a dynamic condition that draws from experience and adapts to a changing environment. The perspective advanced in this paper is that all forms of knowledge, including indigenous knowledge(s), are situated and hybrid. Our argument draws from research carried out in Chiapas, Mexico, regarding the ICBG-Maya bio-prospecting project that was initiated in the 1990s and later terminated due to accusations of bio-piracy.

Keywords

Bio-prospectingBio-piracyHybrid knowledgeDiscourseEmpowermentIndigenous knowledgeMobilizing metaphors

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010