Wednesday, July 23, 2008

IKM emerges at EADI Congress

At the recent EADI General Conference in Geneva, the IKM Emergent programme organized a session entitled "Recognising Multiple Knowledges for Better Governance and Sustainable Development."

IKM Emergent Director Mike Powell opened with a series of projects illustrating emerging methods to reflect on Information and knowledge for development. These ranged from land use planning using 3D models ( through videos of policy opinion ( to animated representations of statistics (

Valerie Brown then presented a compelling model with which to consider multiple knowledges in a research project. Her example was the small town of Port Pirie in Australia where children suffered from lead poisoning as a result of a local industry. Multiple knowledges exist in every community, in this community there was a hierarchy of knowledge. The specialists came first, even though they were remote from the action, local and individual knowledges were considered at a lower level.

Valerie Brown reflects on the IKM Emergent Programme:

The way that knowledge takes a central role in Namibia's national development plan was presented by Kingo Mchombu. He argued that development organizations operate in non hierarchical knowledge sharing systems, that commitment by policy makers is key to implementation in knowledge for development and that decentralisation is part of this process. If local knowledge is not considered, local people feel disempowered.

The final presentation by Wangui Wa Goro and Martha Chinouyas looked at knowledge dialogues and translations, introducing the concept of traducture. It particularly focuses on the mediation of translation space. This was symbolised in her dialogue with Martha Chinouyas which provided an example “under the tree of talking”. The key issue was the form research took within a community, expressed most vividly in the community's desire to conduct interviews under “the tree of talking” rather than in private offices provided for the purpose. Wangui expressed her fears that current methods often result in “Chinese whispers” through intermediaries, resulting in a message that is completely distorted from that of the source.

Wangui reflects on the IKM Emergent Programme:

by Chris Addison


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