Cultivating Knowledge: Development, Dissemblance, and Discursive Contradictions among the Diola of Guinea-Bissau
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CitationDavidson, J. 2010. “Cultivating Knowledge: Development, Dissemblance, and Discursive Contradictions among the Diola ofGuinea-Bissau.” American Ethnologist Volume 37(2): 212-226.
Development practitioners are eager to “learn from farmers” in their efforts to address Africa’s deteriorating agricultural output. But many agrarian groups, such as Diola wet rice cultivators of Guinea-Bissau, have well-established norms that regulate the circulation of knowledge—whether about agriculture, household economy, or day-to-day activities. By exploring how Diola manage information about the natural and supranatural world and exercise evasion and restraint in quotidian interaction, this article problematizes the assumptions that knowledge is an extractable resource; that more knowledge is better; and that democratized knowledge leads to progress. It considers how the Diola tendency to circumscribe information both challenges external development objectives and contours the ways Diola themselves confront their declining economic conditions.
Author's final manuscript.