The Place of Local Knowledge in the Global Community

The Place of Local Knowledge in the Global Community

Other involved Scholars: 

Liia Sad
Circe Silva da Silva
Gerhard Wolf (KHI - Max Planck Institute)
Rüdiger Wolfrum (MPI for Comparative Public Law and International Law)

Cooperation Partners: 

Mongolian Academy od Sciences, National University of Mongolia


Rare books collected by L. Damdinsuren, held at the Mongolian Academy of Science in Ulaanbatar

Focus three concentrates on the encounters between culturally specific knowledge and globalized knowledge. All knowledge traditions are local traditions in the sense of depending, at least at their origin, on specific contexts, specific groups, specific ranges of knowledge, as well as on a specific history determining its architecture in an ultimately contingent way.
The globalization of local knowledge traditions involves intrinsic as well as extrinsic developments, potentially enhancing their social dominance, their range of application, and their degree of reflexivity or, alternatively, destroying their autonomy and reducing their complexity.
The globalization of local knowledge has thus to be conceptualized as a cross-over phenomenon, resulting from the integration of local knowledge traditions whose initial encounter primarily depends on a specific constellation of dominance, resources, and knowledge potentials, that is, on an extrinsic dynamics, while their subsequent co-development is also shaped by an intrinsic dynamics.
The globalization of local knowledge is typically accompanied by a localization of globalized knowledge in the sense of the recontextualization of an alleged universal system of knowledge that may trigger its restructuration.
First explorations of the fate of local knowledge under the influence of intruding globalized knowledge have made evident that such an encounter can have quite different consequences. In some cases, local knowledge systems have been irrecoverably extinguished in a rather short time. Alternatively there are cases in which local knowledge has been synthesized with or at least partly defended against the influences of the global community.
A more detailed study has been pursued in order to clarify the mutual influences of local and global knowledge among two indigenous cultures in the state of Espírito Santo of Brazil, the Tupinikim and the Guarani. Due to the influence of the Brazilian constitution, a set of political and educational activities have been launched to investigate the changes that certain traditional knowledge of Tupinikim and Guarani cultures, as well as non-indigenous peoples, have undergone and what measures can make it possible to reconcile local and external knowledge and to compensate the social deprivation of indigenous people caused by the clash of local and global knowledge systems (Circe Silva da Silva, Ligia Sad).
A further case of confrontation of local knowledge with external influences is the situation of Mongolian culture and science at the crossroads between East and West. Several research trips were made to develop the cooperation between German and Mongolian researchers and to establish the working conditions for an extended research network (Jürgen Renn, Simone Rieger, Urs Schoepflin, Gerhard Wolf, Rüdiger Wolfrum).

On March 29, 2012, the Max Planck Socitey and the Mongolian Academy of Science have signed a contract on scientific cooperation. (more information)