n South African Journal of Higher Education - Western science and indigenous knowledge : competing perspectives or complementary frameworks? : perspectives on higher education

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Indigenous knowledge systems (IKSs) have gained prominence in recent years as a consequence of varied critiques of the dominance of Western ways of knowing. But are Western1 epistemologies and indigenous knowledge(s) competing perspectives or complementary frameworks? In this article I respond to this question and discuss some implications of this debate for knowledge production in South African higher education. Offering a response to this question is essential for two reasons: Western epistemologies are spreading rapidly through more subtle forms (to the use of military power during colonialism) such as globalisation processes; counternarratives to Western dominance are being constructed as a consequence of the internationalisation of indigenous peoples in a contemporary era. I point out that (South) Africa's future development may depend on embracing some aspects of Western sciences and technologies as well as finding inspiration from more traditional ways of knowing.

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