Understanding Global Knowledge-dynamics: A Case-study of NFSC’s Project, Digital Community Archiving--Does it ‘Protect or Plunder’ the Indigenous Knowledge of the Nari Kuravar Community?

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"The relationship between indigenous knowledge (IK) and intellectual property rights (IPR) is currently mired in violence and abuse. Whether the marriage of two antithetical worldviews- the one of global capitalism and therefore IPR, and that of the ‘commons’ and therefore the IK- is sustainable, given the monolithic power of the former, is a critical question in many minds today. Looking into the particular case of the Digital Community Archiving project that chronicles the IK of the Nari Kuravar, allows an understanding of the global knowledge dynamic created when oral, local knowledge is made available publicly for the world on the internet. That this material is freely available without copyright/patents etc., brings in the IPR dimension, and asks whether IPR is at all relevant or necessary to protect this knowledge. In this paper, I try to understand the global power dynamics that accompany the commercialization of indigenous knowledge, the impact on the intellectual commons where IK is produced, and further, whether such projects open up a new space for the exploitation of IK while assuming a democratic, participatory stance."
intellectual property rights, indigenous knowledge, participatory development