Metis knowledge and Power

In Seeing Like A State, Scott looks at a form of tacit knowledge which he describes as Metis. He uses this concept to demonstrate that the sole reliance on empirical thinking is the largest limit to high modernists, and that decision-makers and scientists incorporate practical knowledge or “mētis” to enhance the success of their plans. I thought it was interesting that through metis, Scott demonstrates the disastrous consequences when local knowledge of an area is not considered, take for example the Tanzanian government’s dismissal of farmer’s understanding of crop rotation and soil quality in their original communities for Ujamaa villages which were often placed near poor soil and eliminated the farmer’s ability to rely on their “metis.” The famine that incurred and disruption of many Tanzanian lives, Scott argues, is an example of how scientific planning will be less harmful to society if not solely based on empirical knowledge. From this point, I feel that the transmission of Metis is something that does not occur through conventional styles of learning (written texts), and as such, circumvents state power to a degree.

How might Metis circumvent power, if at all? How might we connect this week on state power back to the last discussion on knowledge and power through Metis? Thoughts?

I also wonder if we can conceive of Metis in some instances as a form of bodily knowledge. Scott says “[h]ence most crafts and trades requiring a touch or feel for implements and materials have traditionally been taught by long apprenticeships to master craftsmen” (313). How might power which is inscribed upon the body come to shape Metis?

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