Debunking The Myths of Indigenous Knowledge: Towards A Political Ecology of The Mandi of Madhupur, Bangladesh
This paper examines the concept of indigenous knowledge and its role in the politics of indigenous movements from a political ecology perspective. It offers an empirical analysis of indigenous knowledge among the Mandi (Mande/Garo), a matrilineal ethnic group in Bangladesh. This study showes that Mandi farmers do not identify their knowledge as indigenous although they identified themselves as different from the majority population of the country. Drawing from the literature and ethnography, I find that indigenous knowledge as a concept is untenable, both theoretically and empirically. However, the concept is very popular in the development discourse and in indigenous movement. At one hand, the international development organizations use it as a tool for making the indigenous habitat available for capitalist market penetration, on the other, the indigenous people regard this concept as a way to get their voices heard in the local and global development planning. Indigenous knowledge lives because it serves the role of a weapon for both sides of the development apparatus.