A part from that guerrilla ethnography is focused on the one aspect that
former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forgot in his much discussed press statement about the known unknowns…

What he said during a press briefing on 12 February, 2002, was

There are known knowns: there are things we know that we know;
There are known unknowns, that is to say that there are things we now know that we don’t know;
But there are also unknown unknowns, there are things we do not know, we don’t know.

Now logically, when you have two components –“known” and “unknown”- there are going to be four and not only three combination possibilities. The one that Mr Rumsfeld is leaving out –probably wisely- on this occasion, is the unknown known.

However the unknown knowns of our societies are much more complex and intriguing than any known known, known unknown or unknown unknown the defense intelligence was ever able to map out.

The unknown known is essential to the functioning of our societies. They are the hidden treasures of our skillset and can either be congenital or acquired. Either way, they have been internalised to a such extent, that we don’t recognise them as an ability.

So, if they are unknown, how do we know?

Our unknown knowns are based on personal experiences and cultural value systems. The latter simply meaning the stories that are told in our communities about our communities. Whilst we live with those stories, individual experience is inevitably added, we take ownership over them and internalise them. This becomes the core of the unknown known.

From there, the unknown knowns spread into all aspects of life; on a societal level, it forms our moral sensitivity in the sense that we know what is right and wrong; on an economic level, it helps us to set priorities; socio-psychologically, it informs us of your role within a community.

More pragmatically, it is also the knowledge about how an island in the ocean kept self-sufficient with fresh water during WWII; its to know which plant grow better on which parts of the land; its why some people connect with some and not others; in short its an advanced sensibility for the cultural, economic and environmental facets of the community and how they interact and at best cross pollinate.

What Donald Rumsfeld didn’t call the unknown knowns back in 2002 is what we could categorise as the embedded knowledge of a community.

The embedded knowledge is luckily little use for military strategists, but it is present in every community. Its vital to any regeneration, development and vision building. It is this embedded knowledge of unknown knowns that guerrilla ethnography in its nature is designed to allure and ignite, share with the whole community and integrate with global expertise to co-vision the future of the all inhabitants.

What does guerrilla ethnography have to do with american foreign politics?
Tagged on: