Recovering Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): is it always what it seems?


  • Lyn Carter Australian Catholic University



environmental education, border theory, science education


Globalisation and its attendant acknowledgment of diversity have meant that Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) as a form of Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is becoming increasingly prominent in many educational disciplines including that of science education. This paper firstly, describes and critiques Snively and Corsiglia’s (2001) argument for TEK suggesting the picture is more complex and that we must be vigilant to avoid new forms of imperialism that may flow from how TEK is represented and appropriated. This critique utilises the two constructs of binaries, and translation and appropriation (after Huggan, 2001), that have been found useful in postcolonial theory to delve into underpinning theorisations of culture and difference used, but underexplored, within science education. The paper goes on to explore some of the newer theorisations on borders, border thinking, hybridity, and border epistemologies (for example Beck, Bonass & Lau, 2003; Mignolo, 2007; Shields, 2006;Visvanathan, 2006) available within postcolonial scholarship to see how they may contribute to the thorny issues of TEK, IK and Western science’s tendency towards imperialism.