Article Title

Problems of Defining and Validating Traditional Knowledge: A Historical Approach


The United Nations’ agencies and many scholars have regarded traditional knowledge as an alternative to science for the purposes of managing the environment. Many countries have adopted this line of approach and formulated some policy strategies. A number of scholars also have engaged in traditional knowledge research and published their works. Despite a large number of publications on traditional knowledge, there seems to be little consensus about the definition of what traditional knowledge is and how it can be useful for environmental management. This article first approaches this definition problem within a historical context in order to clarify the core issues surrounding the definition of traditional knowledge. It then discusses how traditional knowledge can be validated among parties with different interests so that traditional knowledge research and policy can be more effectively implemented in policy-making arenas.


This article is based on the colloquium presentation at the Rachel Carson Center of Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. The author would like to acknowledge the generous fellowship the Center provided to conduct this research from April to July in 2013. The author also would like to thank Dr. Arthur J. Ray and Dr. Christopher Pastore who generously gave their valuable comments on this article.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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