Reproduction of Indigenous Knowledge in Plural Cultures

Geetha B. Nambissan and S. Srinivasa Rao

in Sociology of Education in India

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780198082866
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199082254 | DOI:
Reproduction of Indigenous Knowledge in Plural Cultures

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This chapter examines Ayurveda education in India and the reproduction of indigenous knowledge in a pluralist culture. The story of indigenous knowledge systems such as Ayurveda, especially in the last century, has been one of power struggles resisting the authority, prestige, and the hegemonic tendencies of biomedicine, while selectively co-opting the rival’s therapeutic knowledge and practices in order to be relevant and contemporaneous. Today, Ayurvedic education both contests and collaborates with biomedicine, providing an interesting instance of simultaneous reproduction of plural knowledge systems. Contemporary Ayurvedic education raises several questions pertinent to sociology of education (SoE) in India. Having schooled in the biomedical sciences, how do students make the necessary cognitive shift into the Ayurvedic body of knowledge and its conceptual categories? How do modern Ayurveda colleges organize and realize these conceptual shifts and cultural transitions? The author analyses the role of culture in medicine and in education, and describes the educational and cultural processes of knowledge reproduction in the modern institutions of traditional medicine. This chapter also discusses the curricular and extra-curricular strategies used by Ayurveda colleges to address the marginalization of Ayurveda and the dominance of biomedicine. It also considers how Ayurvedic education contests the binaries between two knowledge systems and attempts to counter the power hierarchies ensuing from them.

Keywords: Ayurveda education; indigenous knowledge; medical pluralism; Ayurveda and SoE; Medical knowledge system; culture and medivine; biomedicine; power hierarchies; pluralist culture; allopathic hegemony

Chapter.  10827 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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