The IK economy

A primary focus of my blog contributions is to promote the concept of the indigenous knowledge economy.

Observations in terms of the current debate of indigenous related policy is that the closest resemblence to this policy idea is Professor Jon Altman’s concept of the ‘hydra’ or ‘hybrid’ economy (Professor Altman has written extensively about this subject, but for a glimpse see here). 

A description of the ‘hybrid’ economy merges the customary practices of indigenous peoples to labour market activity, either supported by government or open markets or a combination of both. 

An example offered by Professor Altman is Sea Rangers in Arnhem land who use their knowledge of land to survey coastal waters in search of illegal vessels.  The idea is that there are distinct social (and economic) benefits that arise as a result of this merge.

Over the coming months and years I will offer increments of opinion as to why a strategic policy approach to the indigenous knowledge economy is a worthy ideal.   

Whilst there are many overlaps with the ‘hybrid’ economy description, a strategic approach to the indigenous knowledge economy targets the ‘interface’ between indigenous knowledge and the broader dominant society.  The ‘interface’ is that body of knowledge that connects both traditional forms of knowledge and contemporary knowledge necessary as a result of the dominant societiel tenets. 

Labour market activity supported by open markets and government can identify an appropriate mix between valuing traditional forms of indigenous knowledge and ‘interface’ knowledge.  Government investment is a tool to leverage this mix.  

An example of the ‘interface’ approach is an Aboriginal health worker who is effective in terms of using her links in a community for the purpose of informing individuals and families about contemporary health diagnosis and treatment.  Her community links are a deposit of traditional forms of knowledge, and her knowledge of contemporary health diagnosis and treatment are deposited by ‘interface’ properties. 

The Sea Ranger description above merges traditional  knowledge of land and place plus knowledge and skills in the use of boats, helicoptors and monitoring technology.  

An artist painting canvass conducts that activity almost exclusive to traditional knowledge, but engages the ‘interface’ approach in terms of marketing or selling the product.   

Exploring the concept of the indigenous knowledge economy opens up many possibilities, but for now I want to introduce this concept to provoke thought and analysis amongst readers.


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