The power of personal knowledge: reflecting on conscientization in lives of disabled people and people affected by leprosy in Cirebon, Indonesia
An epistemological shift can be brought about by recognizing the importance of personal knowledge of disabled people and its transformative social potential. This paper describes the conscientization process among disabled and leprosy affected research assistants and lay counsellors of the Stigma Assessment and Reduction of Impact (SARI) project in Cirebon, Indonesia. Conscientization or critical consciousness refers here to the awakening of the individual regarding his or her individual and social situation which provokes individual and collective change. A significant factor in this process relates to the newly assumed role of staff in the SARI project. Findings from the literature on personal knowledge, its conceptualization and the role of conscientization are first presented, including the political nature of personal knowledge and its significance for social change as well as personal knowledge in the context of disability. Narratives portray practice as the materialization of personal knowledge and affirm the value of reflection, experience, intention, context and geographies of power when searching for individual and social conscientization. The conclusion reflects on the importance of conscientization of personal knowledge and its contribution to the field of disability and social change and, briefly, to the field of knowledge management for development.