Paying Obeisance to the Tribe

One might imagine that thinking about inter- and transdisciplinarity would require a wide acquaintance with the world, e.g., one part philosophy, another policy studies; some historical perspective, some understanding of how science works; some educational theory and a smattering of experience with real world case studies. But even in the relatively small world of interdisciplinary studies the volume of material is so great that trying to remain competent in the field can absorb all of one’s time. Even as it touches upon all these areas there is a turn inward as one takes account of the previous arguments of interdisciplinarians. One is driven to specialize, at the cost of losing touch with a wide range of things. Thus the inevitability of disciplinarity:

“Whatever drives people into highly complex interdisciplinary projects – curiosity, social responsibility, or money – the need of manageable objects and presentable results in their reference community drives them out again” (Krohn 2010).

And the danger is political as much as epistemic. If not properly honored – cited and argued with in ways that shows one’s allegiance to the tribe – one’s ‘reference community’ exacts the ultimate price: ignoring the offender.

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