our project

Exploring local knowledge

This project has meant to me…

By Adriana Sánchez*

What do we mean when talking about local knowledge? Why is it important? Why is it different from expert knowledge? Can we use ICTs to rescue, revalue and position the local knowledge? How a process like this can empower a community?

We had all this questions at the beginning and probably our answers are not complete or total. When we differentiate the local knowledge from others there is a politic view involved: is not only that people from the communities do not consider what they know to be important, is that researchers and academics tend to think they know all the important stuff and they are the ones how should teach people from communities on everything.

We have something for sure: local knowledge is so important that if taken into account when talking about development the world will be a different place today. So, what can we do besides talking about this? Rescuing, positioning a revaluing local knowledge are things that should be done by local actors, so they can use this knowledge to empower themselves and their communities. And since anyone can have a voice raised over the internet, it seems a good idea to use web 2.0 and ICTs to help this kind of process.

So we have designed and ran this experimental “learn by doing” research that involves three different communities. During the way we found many difficulties: poor internet access, digital divide, lack of interest of some local actors, “hard to get to” rural communities and more. But this only helped us to be more creative: there must be a way to make this work and to go away from a community leaving something to them instead of taking away all the knowledge and products that the participants rescued and produced. The capacities to keep positioning local knowledge and empowering the communities can stay there when the research team leaves.

And I think we have done this in a good way. I never had the feeling that the project was trying to prove something that can not be proved. We have a nice group of community journalists out there, taking pictures, making interviews and getting closer to technologies since they have found how important it is to let the world know what happens in their communities. I really like Historias Communitarias. It has to be one of the most incredible and passionate projects I have ever been involved in. As a philologist, the language, the stories, the local knowledge and the local ways of understanding the world have always been very interesting to me. As a facilitator and trainer, learning from other people while they are learning from me is amazing, and I do not think I could ever just go somewhere, develop a workshop and go away feeling I did what I had to do: people always have marvelous thinks to show you, incredible knowledge to share and reality visions that can help one to grow a better person.

This is what this project has meant to me. And I want to keep going on it 🙂

**Sulá Batsú associate, researcher and facilitator.

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