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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Publication details for Prof Paul Sillitoe

Sillitoe, P. (1998). The development of indigenous knowledge: a new applied anthropology. Current Anthropology 39(2): 223-252.

Author(s) from Durham


The widespread adoption of bottom‐up participation as opposed to top‐down modernisation approaches has opened up challenging opportunities for anthropology in development. The new focus on indigenous knowledge augurs the next revolution in anthropological method, informants becoming collaborators and their communities participating user‐groups, and touches upon such contemporary issues as the crisis of representation, ethnography's status with regard to intellectual property rights, and interdisciplinary cooperation between natural and social scientists. Indigenous‐knowledge studies are challenging not only because of difficulties in cross‐cultural communication and understanding but also because of their inevitable political dimensions. Contributing to development which intervenes in people's lives, these studies engage with them in novel ways.