Border Knowledges

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Andy Robinson:

"Authors such as Valentin Mudimbe have attempted to revive the idea that local knowledges are relevant to philosophy, questioning the dominant narrative in which philosophy was invented in the North. The main difficulty in drawing on and revaluing local knowledges is the effects of ‘enclaving’, the isolation of such knowledges. This leads to a need to construct networks which maintain the locality of contexts but are also able to communicate through ‘weak ties’ across contexts.

In this vein, various authors such as Glissant, Mignolo and Khatibi argue for the formation of ‘border knowledges’ which form horizontal connections between different local spaces, reconstructing the global, or ‘planetary’, as a network of perspectives rather than something viewed from the top-down. This kind of horizontal connection can help avoid the problems arising from connection by the intermediary of global knowledge, instead connecting localities without an integrating centre.

Local knowledge is neither a distant, esoteric knowledge which is ‘lost’, nor a collection of information which can be incorporated in dominant frames. It is based on a way of seeing and relating which produce a different form of knowledge in correspondence with a different form of power, both among people and between people and the ecosystem. What can be learnt in the capitalist-dominated world from indigenous knowledge is above all the practice of forming such alternative ways of seeing and relating.

Local knowledge provides the basis for building a new world in the interstices of the old, in the holes in the dominant grid. The question is not only to defend existing spaces of subsistence, but to expand and recreate the social relations through which such spaces emerge." (