This is an introduction to indigenous or local knowledge (IK) in development. After discussing problems of definition, various models to represent relations between, and structure enquiries into, different knowledge traditions are outlined, including the continuum and sphere representations. This discussion includes a summary of points that justify why agencies should seek better to incorporate consideration of local knowledge into development programmes; and sketches the several methodological issues that we have to address to take this work forwards. Finally, this introduction concludes with some comments on the work of the Durham Anthropology in Development (AID) group.
Sara Van Belle
In this article, I set out to capture the dynamics of two streams within the field of global health research: realist research and medical anthropology. I critically discuss the development of methodology and practice in realist health research in low- and middle-income countries against the background of anthropological practice in global health to make claims on why realist enquiry has taken a high flight. I argue that in order to provide a contribution to today’s complex global issues, we need to adopt a pragmatic stance and move past disciplinary silos: both methodologies have the potential to be well-suited to an analysis of deep layers of context and of key social mechanisms.
Convergent or divergent approaches and understandings of poverty? An introduction
John R. Campbell and Jeremy Holland
Is it possible or indeed desirable to combine qualitative, participatory and quantitative research methods and approaches to better understand poverty? This special section of Focaal seeks to explore a number of contentious, inter-related issues that arise from multimethod research that is driven by growing international policy concerns to reduce global poverty. We seek to initiate an interdisciplinary dialog about the limits of methodological integration by examining existing research practice to better understand the strengths and limitations of combining methods which derive from different epistemological premises. We ask how methods might be combined to better address issues of causality, and whether the concept of triangulation offers a possible way forward. In examining existing research we find little in the way of shared understanding about poverty and, due to the dominance of econometrics and its insistence on using household surveys, very little middle ground where other disciplines might collaborate to rethink key conceptual and methodological issues.
Methodologies and Practicalities
In this article I examine the potential of the Femorabilia Collection of Women’s and Girls’ Twentieth Century Periodicals for the study of girlhood in Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations and I explain why the collection was originally created and describe its current purpose and policy to promote future research. I consider the importance of material and reading cultures as well as approaches to understanding the content of these varied publications and discuss the difficulties of working with mass culture, ephemeral texts, and the problem of obtaining examples, and I consider the collection’s particular focus on popular fiction. I consider the development of the collection, examples of methodology and practice, and its use in pedagogy, research, and public engagement.
Conflict over natural resource usage has been ongoing in Tasmania for many years. There continues to be considerable community concern, disquiet and conflict over forestry management practices. In an analysis of his numerous community support projects the author saw an opportunity to involve community members in decisions relating to natural resource management. An interest in action research led him to propose a form of activism based on the ideas of post-normal science (PNS). The idea of the extended peer review aspect of post-normal science has been used in the development of a participative inquiry methodology known as community-based auditing (CBA). The contributions to theory and practice of PNS and environmental activism are thought to be significant. Several cases are briefly discussed.
Earthquakes, blitzkrieg, and ethical futures
This article is a contribution to the growing literature that suggests that the methodological and writing practices of anthropology are out of kilter with the times. The processual structures and regulative mechanisms that produce anthropological knowledge were formed when objection and engagement were not the almost-inevitable consequence of publication. Those who inform anthropological research now frequently object to the ways they are represented. My argument here focuses particularly on the relationship between the ethical structures of anthropology and the nature of objection. Thus far, the consistent response from anthropologists has been to explain away objections as differences in epistemology. In this light, I draw on an objection to my own research on postdisaster reconstruction in India to ask why there should not be disagreement between anthropologists and those who inform research. I also illustrate why the epistemological explanation is now insufficient and why new structures of research and writing might be required to make the leap from an age of objection.
What can Transnational Studies offer the analysis of localized conflict and protest?
Nina Glick Schiller
After reviewing the strengths and limitations of Transnational Studies, including its methodological nationalism, this article calls for the field to develop a theory of power. A transnational theory of power allows us to set aside binaries such as internal/external, global/local, or structure/agency, when analyzing historical and contemporary social processes and conflicts. Previous and current scholarship on imperialism can contribute to this project by facilitating the examination of the role of finance capitalists and of states of unequal financial and military power. However, Transnational Studies also must assess the contestatory possibilities of transnational social movements. The articles in this special section contribute to the development of Transnational Studies by examining past and present transnational constructions of locality, identity, authenticity, and voice, within social fields of uneven power. The articles also illuminate the types of transnational practices, conflict, and struggle that emerge. v
Remarks on the Methodology of the History of Political Thought
João Feres Júnior
Quentin Skinner's methodological project contains a fundamental imprecision that is rarely mentioned by the secondary literature: the assumption, present in several of his methodological texts, that a theory designed for the analysis of oral communication (speech act theory) can be unreservedly used for interpreting text. In this article I will use some of Paul Ricoeur's phenomenological insights on the difference between textual and oral communication in order to advance a systematic critique of Skinner's project and to suggest new methodological possibilities for the history of political thought and related disciplines. This procedure will also allow me to organize some of the criticism raised against Skinner's Collingwoodean approach since its inception.
Jochen Gläser and Grit Laudel
While several “grand narratives” have been developed to account for the impact of scientific things on scientific practice, there is still very little methodological support for comparative analyses of scientific things. The goal of our article is to sketch the methodological challenges involved in comparatively analyzing scientific things and including their properties in middle-range theories of scientific practice. Methodological challenges arise from the necessity to use scientists' accounts of scientific things, the dilemma between depth and breadth of comparative case-study approaches, and from the necessity to compare accounts of scientific things to each other as well as to social conditions of research. Since the dominant approaches to the study of scientific things avoid the middle levels of abstraction, we suggest using an approach based on a theory of action. Two examples from a recent study of conditions for scientific innovations illustrate our approach to the comparative analysis of properties of scientific things.
This article explores history teaching in Albania, with particular emphasis on educational and methodological aspects of new history textbooks published after the liberalization of the school textbook market in 2008. National history textbooks serve as a basis for the assessment of changing educational principles and methodologies in history teaching in terms of five qualitative factors: educational aims, teaching techniques and methodologies, historical narratives, visual materials, and sources. The article thus assesses the degree to which textbooks fulfill their educational function and help to put learning theories into practice. The author also places the revision and reevaluation of national history textbooks in Albania in context by comparing them to the progress of Kosovo's recently established educational system.