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Cultivating knowledge: Development, dissemblance, and discursive contradictions among the Diola of Guinea-Bissau

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ABSTRACT

Development practitioners are eager to “learn from farmers” in their efforts to address Africa's deteriorating agricultural output. But many agrarian groups, such as Diola rice cultivators in Guinea-Bissau, regulate the circulation of knowledge—whether about agriculture, household economy, or day-to-day activities. In this article, I thus problematize the assumptions that knowledge is an extractable resource, that more knowledge is better, and that democratized knowledge leads to progress. I consider how the Diola tendency to circumscribe information both challenges external development objectives and contours the ways Diola themselves confront their declining economic conditions. [agrarian change, knowledge, development, Africa, secrecy, Guinea-Bissau]

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