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Between Knowledges: Pacific Studies and Academic Disciplines

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Title: Between Knowledges: Pacific Studies and Academic Disciplines
Authors: Hviding, Edvard
Keywords: anthropology
indigenous epistemologies
Pacific studies
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LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Hviding, E. 2003. Between Knowledges: Pacific Studies and Academic Disciplines. Special issue, The Contemporary Pacific 15 (1): 43-73.
Abstract: In this paper, I critically examine a number of notions about interdisciplinary
research approaches to the challenges posed by the world today. I juxtapose this
critique with a discussion of interdisciplinary developments in Pacific studies, raising
questions as to how deeper dialogues between academic disciplines and the
worldviews of Pacific Islanders may be reached. While interdisciplinarity is widely
seen as a politically correct agenda for contemporary research on processes of
globalization and development, caution is needed against prevailing optimism
about the potential for solving multidisciplinary problems through interdisciplinary
innovation. Such optimism may overrate the potentials of broad (as opposed
to deep) research approaches and may reflect disregard, if not arrogance, toward
the complexity of the matters addressed. The drive in some European countries
for research on “sustainable development” indicates close ties between interdisciplinary
aspirations and the bureaucratic ambitions of research administrators.
Under such circumstances interdisciplinarity becomes an object of institutional
conflict and internal debate between institutions, as well as between bureaucrats
and scientists, more than a question of creative epistemological contact between
plural knowledges in and beyond academic disciplines in a search for increased
knowledge more generally. The avoidance of such pitfalls in the further development
of Pacific studies requires close attention to and appreciation of initiatives
from within Oceania, coming from beyond the domains of conventional disciplines.
In this paper, such paths toward interdisciplinarity are exemplified in a discussion
of epistemological encounters between Oceanic and western knowledges,
and with reference to the emerging currents of “Native Pacific Cultural Studies.”
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific ], 2003 - Volume 15, Number 1

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