The cultural dimension of the knowledge conflict in the Andes

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The author identifies the key problem of agricultural research and extension in the Peruvian Andes as the result of a clash of two incompatible knowlege systems: one based on Western science, hegemonic in Peru since the Conquest and actively propagated in the practices of top-down agricultural research institutions, the other based on an Andean world-view in which cosmology, metaphor, and ritual still largely determine the semantic categories used by Andean peasants to explain their agricultural practises. Taking the potato as an example, she contrasts peasant discourse with the Greeen Revolution approach still dominant in potato research and advocated by the International Potato Centre (CIP). Improving the communication skills of researchers by understanding the Andean world-view is posited as the only way agricultural and extension in the Andean region can begin better to address the real needs of Andean peasants. She registers some positive developments in this direction: the emergence of bilingual education programmes, the workshopping boom in which peasant and other experts are increasingly sharing and exchanging knowledge, and the postgraduate course in Andean peasant agriculture at the University of Ayacucho in which professionals learn how to perceive reality in Andean categories with courses such as : Holistic conceptions in Andean agriculture, agrocentric culture, the endogenous vision of Andean culture, the organisation of the peasant community, Andean agro -astronomy, and Andean cosmology and religion.

Source publication information
IIED Research Series, Vol.1, No.4
International Institute for Environment and Development
IIED, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DD, UK
Publisher reference: 
International Institute for Environment and Development