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Harnessing Indigenous Knowledge Systems for Socially Inclusive Science Communication: Working towards a ‘Science for Us, with Us’ Approach to Science Communication in the Global South

From the book Race and Sociocultural Inclusion in Science Communication

  • Konosoang Sobane , Wilfred Lunga and Lebogang Setlhabane


Recent trends in science communication have demonstrated that many scientific and social innovations that have the potential to empower society and facilitate social transformation can only achieve their aims through inclusive engagement methodologies and approaches. In the Global South, scientists and science communicators are increasingly acknowledging the significance of socially inclusive methodologies and approaches that will enhance participation in knowledge creation, knowledge brokering, and science communication systems. Their transformative efforts are however hampered by the reality that most of the epistemologies and science communication insights are Eurocentric and fall short of being contextualised to the Global South. In particular, there is a persistence of the oversimplified deficit model in which public audiences are treated as lacking relevant knowledge or experience and as not scientifically literate or interested in research. These approaches therefore miss out on the opportunity to harness the wealth of Indigenous knowledge systems that already exist in the Global South and the in-depth contextualised understandings that these knowledge systems offer. This chapter further argues that the adoption and privileging of Eurocentric models in the Global South is itself another exemplar of the deficit model in practice and calls for evidence-based advocacy to advance socially inclusive approaches to science communication that will enhance access to contextually relevant epistemologies. Drawing from practical examples of science communication across diverse regions of the Global South, the chapter further provides insights into how Eurocentric approaches to science communication in these regions result in the exclusion of Indigenous knowledge systems as a knowledge base. It then reflects on specific ways in which more locally embedded Indigenous approaches can be used and the value they would add to science communication uptake and appreciation in the Global South.


Indigenous knowledgeGlobal SouthIndigenous communication systemssocially inclusive communicationdeficit model
© Bristol University Press 2023, excluding Chapter 12 © Tibisay Sankatsing Nava, Roxanne-Liana Francisca, Krista T. Oplaat, and Tadzio Bervoets
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