Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Knowing and knowledge production : controversies in Eastern Tibetan villages
Author: Hu, Su
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 366X
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Thesis embargoed until 09 Jul 2023
Access from Institution:
This thesis is a study of knowledge practices in contemporary eastern Tibetan villages, where indigenous knowledge, the modern state's rationality and modern science intermingled. The place is rich in the interplay of forms of knowledge. Based on ethnographic observation and reading in hydropower archives, I focus on local knowledge controversies, where there were clashes between the claims of villagers on the one hand, and local officials and visiting scientists on the other. Through the collection of controversies, I observed how different knowledge claims came into contact or conflict with each other, how these conflicts were resolved either in acquiescence or in coordination, and how a conclusion about knowledge was reached in each particular case. In challenging some common assumptions about knowledge production, the thesis makes a contribution to knowledge studies. When researching this subject, scholars have generally studied either the suppression of folk / native knowledge by modern science, or the pure local forms of knowledge as a means of resistance against scientificization. The thesis argues that in contrast to this standard presumption, an alternative form of knowledge production exists. Suppression or resistance are not the only options, hybridization can also be a procedure to produce knowledge, where the outcome is not necessarily purely scientific or purely folk. The case studies I examine do not show either a ruthless plunge into the universe of modern science or an eradication of the modern side and a return to entirely local knowledge. Although modern meteorology prevailed in the face of Tibetans' claims for compensation for destruction of crops by a storm, villagers on the wind-impacted farmlands deconstructed and re-legitimized the science of weather, they did not merely face a simple choice between science and the folk. In another case, villagers clashed with one another on how to delimit the mountain boundary in legal documents, and the state officials took a passive role in these controversies: the geographical entity was not born through suppression, but through villagers' free intellectual movement on the knowledge landscape, from state forestry archives, to local foraging histories, to personal biographies. A controversy over activities related to hydropower manifests the absence of suppression most clearly. Villagers clashed with scientists over seismic damage to local houses, with each side seeking to prove that the damage was or was not caused by a hydropower explosion experiment. The resulting memorandum of understanding that resolved the controversy does not certify scientific explanation nor the folk claim, but is rather a hybridization of incompatible elements from both sides. In this way, the outcome of knowledge-formation through controversies in these Tibetan villages did not fit straightforwardly with the 'logics' of either side. Nevertheless, they were made intelligible and valid as a knowledge in place, in time, and as produced by local groups of people. Simple suppression does not explain local knowledge formation, knowledge derives from complex interplays between scientific, indigenous and administrative practices and narratives.
Supervisor: Kemp, Stephen ; Woodman, Sophia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: knowledge production ; Tibet ; Indigenous knowledge ; modern science