Presentations

    • Botany, ethobotany, plant sciences
      Botany, ethobotany, plant sciences 

      Continue reading 

    • The Guaraní of Misiones, Argentina, their plants and the conservation of their forests
      The Guaraní of Misiones, Argentina, their plants and the conservation of their forests           A ten-year study was made of the ethnobotany of the Guaraní living in the Yaboti Biosphere Reserve of Misiones Province, Argentina by the author and by Dr. Hector Keller. Details of plant uses will be given as well as the results of our quantitative ethnobotany studies. Two plant species topped the importance values calculated, the palm Arecastrum romanzoffianum and the aroid Philodendron bipinnatifidum. During the duration of this work we were able to considerably improve the relationships between the Guaraní and the provincial government. Ano

      Continue reading 

    • The past and future role of minor cereals
      The past and future role of minor cereals Over the last ten millennia, around 40 species of domesticated grass (cereals) have formed a major component of agricultural food chains around the world. Today, three cereals (wheat, rice and maize) account for over half the calorific input of the human food chain. However, the majority of cereals are in decline, some coming close to extinction. The prehistoric record demonstrates this was not always the case. By the Bronze Age, African millets had been expanding into South Asia, Asian millets westwards into Europe, both regions within which such major crops as wheat and barley were well e

      Continue reading 

    • Cultural commonalities despite diverse biologies: reflections on qinghao research (Artemisia annua L.)
      Cultural commonalities despite diverse biologies: reflections on qinghao research (Artemisia annua L.) Cultural diversity, or even super diversity, is today a catchall. The idea that in different cultural settings different people might adopt similar practices when engaging with their social and natural surroundings has been frowned upon, and still is. It somewhat inverts the project of cultural ontologies and the cultural politics those imply. It emphasizes domain-specificity of practice, as do cognitive anthropologists. But unlike the latter, I will not search for explanations in the science of representations.   Rather, I am inspired by 17th century Chinese philosophers who spoke of shi, the

      Continue reading 

    • Buglossoides arvensis 2005-2014, the development of a new oil crop from a weed species
      Buglossoides arvensis 2005-2014, the development of a new oil crop from a weed species Original material sourced from Kew Gardens was poorly adapted for our commercial  agricultural production systems. Plant collecting from around the world identified new genetic variation and enabled the development of a commercial crop. It also suggested that this weed species has been selectively spread by human activity as agriculture moved around the world.

      Continue reading 

    • Traditional medicine, memory and neurodegeneration. Cognitive and memory enhancing effects of Polygala and other extracts
      Traditional medicine, memory and neurodegeneration. Cognitive and memory enhancing effects of Polygala and other extracts         A projected 66 million people worldwide will be living with dementia by 2030, a figure set to rise to 115 million by 2050. With an escalating global cost of > US$600 billion per year for dealing with dementia, there is a great urgency to discover safe and efficacious treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). In 1992, Hardy and Higgins 1 proposed the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis of Alzheimer’s Disease. It postulates that build-up of toxic amyloid-β (Aβ) species initiates a series of events that culminates in neurodegeneration and symptoms. T

      Continue reading 

    • Medicinal herb flows, plant conservation and local livelihoods in Morocco
      Medicinal herb flows, plant conservation and local livelihoods in Morocco The 12th largest exporter of medicinal and aromatic plants in the world, Morocco is keen to expand its share of a multi-billion dollar global market while mainstreaming biodiversity conservation throughout the value chain. It faces the challenge of ensuring the sustainable use and equitable trade of medicinal herbs while enabling rural peoples to benefit economically from wild-crafting and value-adding activities. In a project funded by the UK Darwin Initiative and the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, Global Diversity Foundation is working with partners to address threats to the sustainab

      Continue reading 

    • Turmeric, sexuality and gender in the Polynesian Outliers:  the changing meanings in Solomon Islands of a potent cosmetic substance
      Turmeric, sexuality and gender in the Polynesian Outliers: the changing meanings in Solomon Islands of a potent cosmetic substance Turmeric (Curcuma domestica) was part of the package of domesticated plants that diffused into the Pacific islands with the spread of Lapita culture 3,000 years ago. In Polynesia, at least, the plant was primarily used as a cosmetic with potent cultural meanings connected to the notion of 'mana'. If we focus on the Polynesian Outliers, we find that the plant was used mainly in the context of birth, death and marriage, but today the link to women's sexuality before and after marriage has become turmeric's primary signifier. This case study from Ontong Java atoll, Solomon Islands, will show how

      Continue reading 

    • Life itself in the Pacific: unbounded forms of life, relational life forms
      Life itself in the Pacific: unbounded forms of life, relational life forms This presentation concerns a theory of growth from Bolivip, Papua New Guinea, where taro plants (Colocasia esculenta) are taken to be sentient, wilful, pliant and playful children with body parts and sense organs that enable them to engage in and respond to social relations. Gardeners know, think about, and feel for their taro plants, personally, and will favour and please some by planting them with their clan kin and friends, and equally admonish and berate others by planting them in isolation or expose them to pests. Gardeners well understand the growth effects of different sites, and those

      Continue reading 

    • Intelligence in nature
      Intelligence in nature An anthropologist first learns about the intelligence of plants and animals from indigenous people in the Amazon, then traces it in recent scientific research, only to find that words such as « intelligence » and « nature », skew our understanding, and that grasping the capacities of living organisms involves learning to see through the prejudices of our own culture. Indigenous people, who have long viewed non-human organisms as intelligent beings with specific intentions and personalities, have concepts that can stimulate the investigative imagination of scientists. Scientists, after all, are

      Continue reading 

    • Transforming international trade in wild plant ingredients: experiences with the FairWild Standard
      Transforming international trade in wild plant ingredients: experiences with the FairWild Standard The FairWild Standard (www.fairwild.org) is a collection of eleven principles guiding the sustainable collection and fair trade in wild harvested plant ingredients. Created through a multi-stakeholder consultation process, it is maintained by the FairWild Foundation, a non-profit entity established with the aim to “provide a worldwide framework for implementing a sustainable, fair and value-adding management and trading system for wild-collected natural ingredients and products thereof.” The FairWild Foundation has a Board of Trustees drawn from t

      Continue reading 

    • Ethnobotany in community-managed land use systems in tropical countries: an A Rocha perspective
      Ethnobotany in community-managed land use systems in tropical countries: an A Rocha perspective Plants are an integral component of different human–dominated land use systems. Apart from contributing to functional biodiversity, they play a vital role in the socio-economy of local communities in tropical countries. However, indigenous knowledge about ethnobotanic uses of plants in surrounding ecosystems is fast disappearing as society increasingly invests in intensive land use and human welfare systems that are hugely dependent on modern science. A Rocha, an international Christian conservation organization works with l

      Continue reading 

    • Seeds as embodied heritage: gender and conservation in Zimbabwe
      Seeds as embodied heritage: gender and conservation in Zimbabwe Traditional farming in Zimbabwe was underpinned by a deep and refined knowledge of the environmental conditions governing soil and water management. High crop diversity was employed as a key management tool to control a variable environment. Complex seed exchange networks facilitated the movement of germplasm, and soil fertility was maintained through practices based on an understanding of the deep connection between soil and human health. Preservation of traditional values and knowledge has been an important factor in the conservation of traditional crops by female 'keepers of diversity', due

      Continue reading 

    • Cultural values in plant conservation – the Corncockle approach
      Cultural values in plant conservation – the Corncockle approach Conservation of plants and their genetic diversity is carried out by a range of individuals and organisations using scientific methodologies, responses to political and conservation strategies, community land management and the individual decisions of farmers, foresters and gatherers. However despite the multiple routes to conservation the debate in Europe is increasingly framed only in terms of numbers and economics. Those arguing for and against more conservation couch their arguments in these terms and in policy frameworks such as biodiversity offsetting, natural capital and green infrastru

      Continue reading 

    • Registers of plant knowledge and value creation among forest people in Peruvian Amazonia in the light of the Nagoya Protocol
      Registers of plant knowledge and value creation among forest people in Peruvian Amazonia in the light of the Nagoya Protocol The 2010 Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (ABS) is a supplementary agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. Since the 1990s plant inventories, encyclopaedias and plant lists have been published in Amazonian countries as foundations of prior knowledge and prior art. In Peru the Nagoya Protocol triggered the Register of Collective Plant Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples according to the 27811 law, in association with the Department of Inventions and Technologies (DIN) and the Copyright B

      Continue reading 

    • Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in northwest South America is strongly localized
      Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in northwest South America is strongly localized Traditional knowledge of biodiversity can accelerate drug discovery and has therefore inspired intense debates over bioprospecting and intellectual property rights. The Nagoya Protocol attempts to regulate access to and benefit-sharing from traditional knowledge of genetic resources. However, ensuring equitable benefit-sharing requires information on the geographical distribution of knowledge, which is typically unavailable to countries and patent examiners. To remedy this situation, we investigated how much traditional knowledge is unique and how much is shared across four highly bioculturall

      Continue reading 

    • New flows of cultural value around 'people and plants' in Nepal
      New flows of cultural value around ‘people and plants’ in Nepal This paper documents the ethnobotanical knowledge of the people of the village of Deurali in central Nepal and examines how this knowledge has been changing after the construction of a road to the village and the establishment of allopathic pharmacies. Based on the 115 household surveys conducted to gather information on plants and their uses in everyday activities, altogether 138 medicinal plants used in domestic medical practice have been described. Local people have tremendous knowledge of medicinal plants and of their medicinal value even though practices are changing along with their usag

      Continue reading 

    • Paper plants in the Himalayas: historical transformations of book making
      Paper plants in the Himalayas: historical transformations of book making Many of Buddha’s teachings travelled from India to Tibet written on palm leaf manuscripts. Here paper turned into the main, albeit not the exclusive, support for Tibetan Buddhist texts. A wide range of plants growing in different ecological niches in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau became key raw-materials embedded in wide-ranging networks that connected different people in the production, circulation and use of literary artefacts.  These plants belong to a large extent to the Thymelaeaceae family. Some of these plants, like the bushes of different species of Daphne and Edgeworthia th

      Continue reading 

    • The ebb and flow of plant resources and knowledge; contemporary and historical perspectives from Kew
      The ebb and flow of plant resources and knowledge; contemporary and historical perspectives from Kew Botanical gardens have played key roles in the transfer of material and immaterial botanical resources, both between and across regions. From active acquisition and dissemination with a view to exploitation and dissemination – sometimes with inadvertently destructive consequences – through to more conservation-conscious acquisition and finally to repatriation, not only of data and germplasm but also of expertise, these roles have altered dramatically. The function of the ethnobotanist meanwhile, reflecting these changes, has shifted from documenter and disseminator to analyst and facilitator,

      Continue reading 

    • Conference Presentation
      Conference Presentation Sessions/Themes 1. Trans-regional flows, past and present.  Besides well-known histories of the Great Exchange, how have movements of plants across regions contributed to continually re-structure plant knowledge? Are there patterns in humans’ fascination with exotic plants? What do movements of plants reveal about species selection and controversial processes of domestication? Can cross-disciplinary insights from anthropological, archaeological, historical, philosophical, biological, and chemical evidence bring new elements to the discussion of how people structure their relations wi

      Continue reading