Does Knowledge Equal Power?

knowledge of plants has mean money, if not power,

Foucault saw the concepts of knowledge and power as one entity, which he called “pouvoir-savoir”, based on the philosophy that knowledge and power are co-evolved. There are a number of examples where Foucault’s assertion seem to be correct. In France, a group of patients with muscular dystrophy coordinated and collected vast amounts of collective data on the rare disease by detailed recordkeeping by family members. They even held their own conferences and shared information, eventually bringing in a couple of doctors to do standard medical analysis on their data. Armed with knowledge of the disease, they were able to confront the medical establishment, which had previously ignored their cases because so little was known about the disease and the doctors did not want to look ignorant. Public attention brought by these events also brought funding to an otherwise unprofitable treatment regiment (Rabeharisoa and Callon in Jasanoff 2004). In other parts of the world, knowledge of medicinal plants and other helpful plant genotypes has been linked to indigenous rights movement through intellectual property (Whatmore 2002). Plant germplasms have become a way for communities to connect to international groups supporting biodiversity, which in turn helps secure indigenous rights over both intellectual and land properties.

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