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Session Overview
PS-3.03: Indigenous knowledge, informal sector, innovation and development 3
Thursday, 13/Oct/2016:
10:30am - 12:00pm

Session Chair: Vajk Miklos Lukacs de Pereny Martens, ESAN University
Discussant: Susan Cozzens, Georgia Institute of Technology
Location: Savoy Room-3 (Homann)

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Knowledge and Innovation in Informal Economy: A Case of Vinegar Making in Western Uttar Pradesh

Birendra Singh


Informal economy is an important pillar of livelihood, critical source of food and services for people living in urban slum and villages. Almost all conventional studies on informal economy largely concentrate on labor, wages, skill and productivity. This case study is an effort to explore most overlooked aspects of informal economy, viz. knowledge and innovation. We have treated informal economy as a source of knowledge and innovation though techniques and methods of formal research didn’t match with the world view of people working in informal economy. This case study takes vinegar making in Mawana (Meerut), Uttar Pradesh, located in sugarcane heart belt of Northern India. In this region, sugarcane has been widely used as raw substrate for making natural vinegar by traditional methods. Study approached various methods of ethnographic research including deep hanging out, formal informal group discussions and structured questionnaire. In order to conceptualize process of knowledge production, transfer and appropriation this study emphasizes on local resources and problems, local knowledge and its connection with modern knowledge system, interaction and community networks, nature of local social institutions. Learning and the social institutions that sustain and transfer knowledge were also included in this study. In observation and analysis study also incorporate social institutions like family, gender and caste.

Innovation And Inclusive Development On The Edge: Universities Interacting With Marginalised African Communities In Ecologically Fragile Locations

Michael Gastrow1, Glenda Kruss1, Maitseo Bolaane2, Timothy Esemu3

1Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa; 2University of Botswana; 3Makerere University Business School, Uganda

An emerging debate in the innovation studies literature is that over the inclusiveness of innovation – moving beyond a growth agenda and towards an equality agenda. This shifts the focus onto marginalised communities, and the potential of innovation for inclusive development. This paper draws on an evidence base describing university interactions with highly marginalised communities in South Africa, Uganda and Botswana. These universities have established interface structures through which participative knowledge-building has led to new processes and social structures that have helped communities to address their livelihoods challenges. At the same time, universities have benefitted from the interaction, gaining from the communities’ local knowledge. This paper explores the characteristics of these interactions in order to open up a new empirical frontier, and also to reflect on the utility of innovation systems theory for understanding borderline cases of innovation that take place in informal settings and marginalised communities.

From Shifting To Terrace Cultivation: The Idea Of Sustainability In India’s North-Eastern Region.

Abhinandan Saikia

Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India

Shifting cultivation which is locally known as jhum is profusely practiced in many parts of north eastern India. A prodigal child of Indian agriculture, Jhum is considered to be environmentally unsustainable since the colonial era. Nonetheless, it is based on a traditional knowledge system encompassing its linkage with the values of economy, ecology and society. To be confined only as agriculture would therefore limit its scope, for being an institution in itself. From the Government of India, there have been repeated attempts to wean the shifting cultivators to terrace cultivation in the recent past. The success were however piecemeal, as the replacement strategy failed to address the embedded knowledge linked with jhum and its sustainability. The paper is making an attempt to understand the challenges of diffusion during technology transfer (here – terrace cultivation), on how it can result in bringing a reductionist tendency in a holistic framework like jhum. The study has been carried in Nagaland, which have highest number of shifting cultivators among the north eastern states in India.

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