Farmer First Revisited 12 – 14 December 2007 at the Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK Presentation, Theme 1c, Science and the Politics of Knowledge Discussant: Melissa Leach (IDS and STEPS Centre) Science and the politics of knowledge Discussant’s comments Melissa Leach Eight fascinating papers • Cognitive maps in the Philippines (Nazarea) • West African seed systems as neural networks (Richards) • Indigenous knowledge and innovations in India – the Honey Bee Network (Gupta) • Factors shaping the spread of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) (Uphoff) • Dialogues and learning alliances around SRI in India (Prasad) • Scaling-up participatory research in potato-related innovation systems in Bolivia, Peru, Ethiopia and Uganda (Ortiz et al) • Linking scientists and users – the DFID Research Into Use programme (Albright) • Including civil society organisations in African agricultural R and D (Jones and Sanyang) Distinguishing knowledge systems • Beyond conventional distinctions: indigenous vs. scientific; traditional vs. modern; local vs. global; practical vs. theoretical • Technology vs. sets of principles • Bodies of (technical) knowledge vs. cognitive processes • ‘In head’, discursive knowledge vs. ‘in body’; practice, habitus; sensory, emotional • Individual vs. socially-distributed knowledge • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning • Integration of multiple knowledges in an innovation system vs. multiple innovation systems • Distinct technological paradigms linked with politicaleconomic-social goals Dynamics • Contexts of rapid environmental, political and economic change – variability in time as well as space • Shocks and stresses • Uncertainties, unpredictabilities, surprises • Locating resilience – in technologies, cognitive processes, innovation systems? • Rigidity of technologies/supervised learning vs. plasticity, flexibility, adaptability of practice-sets, networks? Models of spread • Entrepreneurship and marketing • Scaling-up through formal mechanisms to link multiple actors – civil society, public and private, global agencies and funders • Inclusionary mechanisms to raise farmer voice in formal decision-making • Key ‘witnessing events’ • Personal crusades and opportunity-taking • ‘Messy, playful encounters of everyday practice where farmers, scientists and civil society are engaging in an uneven but dynamic knowledge marketplace’ (Prasad) • Unseen spread through unacknowledged networks Politics of interaction • Comfortable integration within a larger innovation system • Fraught encounters – negotiations over knowledge, means of validation, framing questions • Informal (sometimes) hidden adoption of each other’s ideas and technologies • Coalitions that link different agendas • Histories of dissent between positioned paradigms • Learning alliances – knowledge dialogues that build bridges, create shared languages • Frontstage consensus vs. backstage conflict? Questions • What are the salient characteristics and distinctions between ‘knowledge systems’ that should now guide a revisiting of FF? • What characteristics of knowledge/innovation systems are key to building resilience amidst current dynamics and uncertainties? • What processes are key to spreading ‘farmers’ knowledge/learning’, and how can these be enhanced? • Linking ‘farmers’ and ‘scientists’ – what roles/contexts for integrative, networked, deliberative and antagonistic politics? What are the implications for designing innovation systems and ‘learning alliances’?