Evolution of Technology (TEC 154 2014S) : Readings

Readings on Biopiracy (1)


Mark Plotkin "A Earthly Paradise Regained"

Richard Nelson "Understanding Eskimo Science"

Consuelo Quiroz "Local Knowledge Systems in Latin America"


In Local Knowledge Systems in Latin America, Consuela Quiroz discusses the importance of local knowledge systems (LKS) for development because it is critical to "our" progress. In fact, "with the extinction of each indigenous group, the world loses millennial of accumulated knowledge about life in and adaptation to tropical ecosystems." I find it disconcerting, but unsurprising that no one mourns the people, just the knowledge that is assumed to be for everyone. Would a sociologist, versus an anthropologist have a different point of view? Or is it a western mentality that is attributed to this assume ownership over knowledge?

In "why save the rain forest?," the indigenous people under discussion are other-ed and their knowledge is described as "secrets" that we won't be able to learn if we don't "save the rain forest" (165). In addition the people are placed next to the plants as parts of the rain-forests. So how have the geographies of indigenous people and/or Latin Americans been imagined or created for them, and whose agenda does this serve?

Should patents on use of existing, unmodified organisms be allowed? If so, where would the line be drawn for purpose-bred organisms such as rice, for example?

Should discoveries of indigenous knowledge be sanctioned as public knowledge? If so, do the natives deserve some sort of compensation?

How can we, as a culture, promote being more connected to nature like the articles argue for?

How can we prevent the degradation of a group's culture while still learning about how they use plants for healing?

Copyright (c) 2014 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

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