Proceedings from ISE Congresses

Ethnobiology: Implications and applications, 2 Volumes (1988).Authors Darrell A. Posey, William Leslie Overal, Charles R. Clement, Mark J. Plotkin, Elaine Elisabetsky, Clarice Novaes da Mota , Jose Flavio Pessoa de Barros.

The Proceedings of the First International Congress of Ethnobiology (Belem, 1988) are available through and


Ethnobiology and Conservation of Cultural and Biological Diversity, Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress of Ethnobiology (1996). Edited by Christine Kabuye.

Please contact the ISE Coordinator if you are interested in purchasing a copy!


Ethnobiology and Biocultural Diversity, Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Ethnobiology (2000). Edited by John Richard Stepp, Felice Wyndham and Rebecca Zarger

Edited by John Richard Stepp, Felice Wyndham and Rebecca Zarger, the proceedings of the 7th ISE Congress, held in Athens, Georgia USA, are one of the most comprehensive collection of papers in the field to date. Ethnobiology and Biocultural Diversity presents state-of-the-art research and commentary from more than 50 of the world’s leading ethnobiologists. Copies of the proceedings are also available from Kent University in the United Kingdom; please send orders to Jan Horn at the University of Kent in the UK. All royalties go to the ISE!

The Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Ethnobiology (2000) are available through

Ethnobiology – general

Traveling Cultures and Plants: The Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacy of Human Migrations. Edited by Andrea Pieroni and Ina Vandebroek

The tremendous increase in migrations and diasporas of human groups in the last decades are not only bringing along challenging issues for society, especially related to the economic and political management of multiculturalism and culturally effective health care, but they are also creating dramatic changes in traditional knowledge, beliefs and practices (KBP) related to (medicinal) plant use. The contributors to this volume – all internationally recognized scholars in the field of ethnobiology, transcultural pharmacy, and medical anthropology – analyze these dynamics of traditional knowledge in especially 22 selected case studies.

294 pages, bibliog., index. ISBN 978-1-84545-373-2 Hb $80.00/£50.00 Published by Berghahn Books, 2007. Text courtesy of Berghahn Books.

A Zapotec Natural History—Trees, Herbs, and Flowers, Birds, Beasts, and Bugs in the Life of San Juan Gbëë. By Eugene S. Hunn

A Zapotec Natural History is a thoughtful, candid and worthwhile compilation of Hunn’s approximately 10 years research into the ethnobiological knowledge of the Zapotec of San Juan Gbëë in the mountains of southern Oaxaca, Mexico.  The volume covers a number of aspects of the community of San Juan, the history of the project, and aspects of knowledge of plants, animals, and environments, from food and medicinal plants to children’s knowledge. Hunn muses on connections between linguistic retention and the tremendous heritage of knowledge of living things held by the people of San Juan Gbëë, and speculates on the importance of exposure to a rich and diverse natural world during the critical period of childhood and youth to learning and retaining a large inventory of knowledge about plants, animals, environments and their properties. He also reflects on sciences, and the human capacity to systematically investigate the world and order our knowledge of the living world, and argues that cosmopolitan science is not the only science.  The accompanying CD Rom contains a complete ethnoflora, with English, Latin and Zapotec names, an ethnofauna, and a compilation of mycological knowledge.  There are links to many images of plants, animals, fungi and environments, and to the people who were Hunn’s main teachers.  He also makes use of the multimedia capacities of digital storage to include a number of sound files which pronounce the Zapotec names.

The volume will prove rewarding for anyone with an interest in ethnobiology of Mexico, and approaches to community collaboration in  research, and contains worthwhile reflections on many aspects of ethnobiological knowledge.  Its focus on children’s knowledge is a valuable contribution, as acquisition and transmission of ethnobiological knowledge is important to investigate in today’s rapidly changing world.

261 pp and supplemental figures and tables on CD-ROM. bibliog, and index. ISBN 978-0-8165-2617-8  HB $50.00 Published by University of Arizona Press, Tucson 2008.

Review contributed by Leslie Main Johnson, Athabasca University.

Yumbulyumbulmantha ki-Awarawu. All Kinds of Things from Country. Yanyuwa Ethnobiological Classification

Yumbulyumbulmantha ki-Awarawu is issue six of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit research report series and published by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, University of Queensland in 2006. Authors of this work include John Bradley, Miles Holmes, Dinah Norman Marrngawi, Annie Isaac Karrakayn, Jemima Miller Wuwarlu and Ida Ninganga.

In this first comprehensive review of a single language groups’ approach to ethnobiological classification John Bradly and his co-authors examine Yanyuwa country in the Gulf Country of Australia’s Northern territory. Anthropologist John Bradley has lived and worked among the local people since 1980. In this book, with five co-authors–four are Yanyuwa elders–he brings together observations and understandings of the diverse ways in which the people talk about, think about and engage with the land and sea, plants and animals that they experience.

Announcement contributed by Bob Gosford, ISE Oceania and Pacific Islands Representative.


Landscape Ethnoecology: Concepts of Biotic and Physical Space. Edited by Leslie Main Johnson and Eugene S. Hunn

Although anthropologists and cultural geographers have explored “place” in various senses, little cross-cultural examination of “kinds of place,” or ecotopes, has been presented from an ethno-ecological perspective. To illuminate our comprehension of the relationships between human groups and their land and between water and resource bases, this volume investigates the indigenous and local understandings of landscape. The contributors go beyond the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) literature and offer valuable insights on ecology and on land and resources management, emphasizing the perception of landscape above the level of species and their folk classification. Focusing on the ways traditional people perceive and manage land and biotic resources within diverse regional and cultural settings, the contributors address theoretical issues and present case studies from North America, Mexico, Amazonia, tropical Asia, Africa and Europe.

November 2009, ca 336 pages, 26 tables, 35 figures, bibliog., index. ISBN 978-1-84545-613-9 Hardback ca $100.00/£60.00. Berghahn Books.

Announcement contributed by Leslie Main Johnson (Athabasca University); Leslie is presently Secretary of the ISE and Eugene S. Hunn is a prominent ethnobiologist, active in both the ISE and SoE for many years.

Trail of Story, Traveller’s Path—Reflections on Ethnoecology and Landscape. By Leslie Main Johnson

The ways people understand and act upon land shape cultures and ways of life, determine identity and polity, and create environmental relationships and economies, sustainable or ephemeral.  Understandings of land also underlie the complicated dance of resource development, even the concept of ‘resource’, as it is negotiated between local populations and larger socio-political and economic forces.  This work undertakes an examination of understanding of the land, of ethnoecology and traditional knowledge of the land, based on work with several indigenous peoples, First Nations, of northwestern Canada. Extended explorations of landscape ethnoecology of Gitksan and Witsuwit’en of northwestern British Columbia, the Kaska Dena of the southern Yukon, and the Gwich’in of the Mackenzie Delta region are presented. I then reflect on the contrasting ways of organizing and integrating knowledge of the landscape and its ecology of the indigenous Canadians I have worked with and the approaches to landscape ecology and classification prevalent in western based scientific traditions.  Finally I consider the implications of these ways of knowing the land in contemporary contexts.

November 2009 bibliography, index, 47 black and white figures and maps, 8 colour figures and maps. Athabasca University Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Announcement contributed by Leslie Main Johnson, Athabasca University.

Biocultural Diversity, Conservation & Resource Management

Agriculture and Food in Crisis. By Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar

I’d like to bring to your attention a new book just released by Monthly Review Press, titled ‘Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal,’ edited by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar.

This important collection addresses the global food crisis, its historical roots, and how it is being addressed around the world. Ronnie Cummins, the founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association, calls this book “a healthy and inspiring antidote to the ‘business as usual’ propaganda of the mass media—a recipe for resistance. As this book reminds us, if we want to survive and eat and live in a sustainable world, we’re going to have to mobilize and fight the powers that be.”  Read more information about the book.

Contributed by David Hernández Palmar.

Biocultural Diversity Conservation—A Global Source Book By Luisa Maffi and Ellen Woodley.

The field of biocultural diversity is emerging as a dynamic, integrative approach to understanding the links between nature and culture and the interrelationships between humans and the environment at scales from the global to the local. Its multifaceted contributions have ranged from theoretical elaborations, to mappings of the overlapping distributions of biological and cultural diversity, to the development of indicators as tools to measure, assess, and monitor the state and trends of biocultural diversity, to on-the- ground implementation in field projects.

This book is a unique compendium and analysis of projects from all around the world that take an integrated “biocultural” approach to sustaining cultures and biodiversity. The 45 projects reviewed exemplify a new focus in conservation, based on the emerging realization that protecting and restoring biodiversity and maintaining and revitalizing cultural diversity and cultural vitality are intimately interrelated. In indigenous and local communities worldwide, cultural beliefs, values, knowledge systems, practices and languages all manifest a close relationship between humans and the environment. This implies that, to maintain biodiversity, we also need to sustain cultural diversity; conversely, in order to sustain cultural diversity, we need to maintain biodiversity. This book shows how biocultural diversity conservation is done in practice, using a diversity of approaches adapted to a variety of contexts. The book reviews the theory of biocultural diversity and why it is relevant for conservation; presents and analyzes the projects; draws lessons learned; offers recommendations and proposes next steps for the further development of this approach; and considers the role of biocultural diversity in relation to the future of sustainability.

February 2010 192 pages. ISBN 9781844079216. £28.00. Announcement courtesy of Earthscan, provided by Luisa Maffi.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Ecological and Economic Foundations Edited by Pushpam Kumar

A vital tool for researchers, professionals, policy-makers and researchers concerned with applied economics and business, biodiversity and nature conservation. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Ecological and Economic Foundations explains the development of the concept of ecosystem services, and describes the TEEB framework used for their valuation; reviews the current state of knowledge on the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystems and the services they provide; shows how valuation can help people rethink their relation to the natural environment; explores the social, cultural and ethical issues involved in valuing ecosystem services; and provides a detailed discussion of the application of the different monetary valuation techniques. For more information on this and other volumes from the TEEB project please see the TEEB homepage

Edited by Pushpam Kumar (An output of TEEB – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study.)

Gender, Culture, and Northern Fisheries Edited by Joanna Kafarowski

A recent release by the Canadian Circumpolar Institute explores Gender, Culture, and Northern Fisheries, addressing several themes not strongly represented in the mainstream literature.  This volume, edited by Joanna Kafarowski, is a collection of papers examining women’s roles in fisheries around the circumpolar region, including papers on Aleut, Tlingit, Inuit, Icelandic, Norwegian and Sami fisheries in Norway and Arctic Sweden, and presents a range of different issues and situations. Themes that run through the volume are: recognition of women’s historic role in fisheries; changes in women’s roles in a range of commercial and artisanal fisheries; contemporary participation in fisheries and fisheries policy; and economic contributions of women fishers. A pervasive concern is gender equity and representation of women in fisheries across the North. The volume also raises questions and explores how (and if) women’s traditional knowledge of fisheries is being transmitted in locales that range from coastal Alaska through Arviat on Hudson’s Bay.

Gender, Culture, and Northern Fisheries, Joanna Kafarowski, Ed. Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, Edmonton. 2009. 242 pp. ISBN 978-1-896445-46-5

Contributed by Leslie Main Johnson, Athabasca University.

The Pursuit of Ecotopia: Lessons from Indigenous and Traditional Societies for the Human Ecology of Our Modern World By E.N. Anderson

The latest book by ethnobiologists Eugene Anderson, whose career in ethnobiology spans the past 4 decades, and who has worked in Southeast Asia, Northwestern North America and in the Mexican Yucatan peninsula.  Anderson is author of a number of books on topics of ethnobiological interest, and has had a long interest in what motivates people to live respectfully and sustainably in/with environments. As my copy has not arrived yet, I quote the review reproduced on by environmental anthropologist Leslie Sponsel:

The distinguished ecological anthropologist Eugene Anderson has effectively distilled and synthesized the knowledge and wisdom that he has gained from more than five decades of research and teaching on the roles of reason and emotion in sustainable resource and environmental management. In so doing he has advanced a long way toward constructing the foundation for a moral if not also spiritual ecology that will facilitate more serious and sustained consideration of the real possibilities of striving toward the ideals of ecotopia. His masterful treatise is destined to become a classic read, contemplated, and appreciated for decades hence by a broad and diverse range of scholars from the humanities as well as the natural and social sciences, policy makers and implementers, and the general public.

The Pursuit of Ecotopia: Lessons from Indigenous and Traditional Societies for the Human Ecology of Our Modern World, E.N. Anderson, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2010. 272 pp. ISBN 978-0313381300 List Price $44.98 USD.


Edible Medicines, An Ethnopharmacology of Food By Nina L. Etkin

While this has been out for a while, I thought it still worth reviewing in the newsletter.  I recently read ethnopharmacologist Nina Etkin’s last book Edible Medicines, An Ethnopharmacology of Food and would recommend it to any who have not already had the chance to examine it. It is a good read and a lovely synthesis of the culture of eating and pharmacology of foods. Etkin draws on her own lengthy fieldwork in Nigeria to give a nuanced view of Hausa food systems, and analyses the foods considered special for particular phases of life (post-circumcision ceremony for boys and post-partum for women), explaining why foods are considered appropriate in the local viewpoint and also why these food and nutritional choices make sense from a biomedical perspective as well. She also reviews the culinary history, diverse land races and properties of a number of key plants in the global trade of the past several centuries such as chilies, coffee, and pepper, and gives a fascinating account of fermented foods and how the process of fermentation alters the nutritional and pharmacological qualities of the fermented products.  A last subject covered in Etkin’s book which is often neglected in general ethnobiological or ethnopharmacology literature is the use of animal products as medicine.

Edible Medicines, An Ethnopharmacology of Food Nina L. Etkin, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 2006. 301pp. ISBN 978-0-8165-20993-0 paperback 2008 $29.95 CAD

Contributed by Leslie Main Johnson, Athabasca University.

Ethnozoology and Related

Ethnography of honey in the mbya-guaraní culture (in Spanish). By Marilyn Onion Badie.

Estimados amigos y colegas: Quiero compartir con ustedes la buena noticia de la publicación por la editorial Abya-Yala de mi libro “Etnografía sobre la miel en la cultura mbya-guaraní”. Un largo trabajo de investigación acerca de los conocimientos y la cosmología de la etnia mbya sobre las distintas especies melíferas y sus mieles silvestres en la selva paranaense. Espero que les agrade. Muchos saludos para todos

Dear Colleagues and friends: I would like to share with you the good news of the publication of my book Ethnography of honey in the mbya-guaraní culture (in Spanish).  A lengthy research project which deals with knowledge and cosmology of the mbya ethnic group based in their knowledge of the various honey producing species of the Parana forest and their wild honeys. I hope that you enjoy it.  Warm greetings to all.

Marilyn Onion Badie, Adjunct Professor Department of Social Anthropology, FHyCS-Universidad Nacional de Misiones, CINAF-Universidad de Barcelona

Spirits of our Whaling Ancestors, Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions. By Charlotte Cote

In the spirit of the Tofino congress and the amazing welcome we had from the Nuu-chah-nulth people I wanted to share the announcement of a new book on Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth traditions by indigenous author Charlotte Coté.  Whaling was central to Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth culture and life ways, and with the decimation of grey whale populations brought about by  Euro-North American commercial whaling, indigenous whaling was outlawed.  In 1999, after the removal of the grey whale from the endangered species list, the Makah (American relatives of the Nuu-chah-nulth) asserted their aboriginal rights and harvested a whale.  The response of the international and animal rights communities to this event was often strongly negative, and environmental activists attempted to prevent the hunt.  The response of indigenous peoples around the world was strongly positive at the assertion of Indigenous rights and the revival of a practice central to the culture.  I visited Neah Bay in 2003 as part of the Society of Ethnobiology Conference held in Seattle that year.  We were privileged to hear about the whale hunt in 2003 from those who participated.  In this articulate volume Coté, herself Nuu-chah-nulth, explains the significance of the revival of whaling and explores responses to it.  On the book cover ethnobiologist and anthropologist Thomas Thornton writes “An excellent and timely book that chronicles the revitalization of the honored whaling tradition among the Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth, but also raises broader issues of eco-colonialism, identity and self-determination within the cultural nexus and political ecology of modern environmentalism and indigenous hunting economies.”  Coll Thrush writes “This work by an indigenous scholar, trained in the academy and with hereditary rights to particular kinds of information, shares the traditions of her own family and community, making a powerful contribution to Northwest Coast indigenous and environmental history.”

For those who attended the Tofino Congress and for anyone with an interest in Indigenous cultures of the Northwest Coast, Indigenous rights, identity, cultural revival,  human relations with animals, food sovereignty and the intersection of local rights with international perceptions and regulations, this book is a must read.

Spirits of our Whaling Ancestors, Revitalizing Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth Traditions by Charlotte Cote. University of Washington Press, Seattle and UBC Press Vancouver, Toronto 2010. ISBN 978-0-7748-2053-0. list price $24.95 CAD

Contributed by Leslie Main Johnson, Athabasca University.

Indigenous Knowledge

En estado de sitio: los kuna en Urabá. Vida cotidiana de una comunidad indígena en una zona de conflicto. (In state of siege: the kuna in Urabá. Everyday life of a Colombian Indigenous community in a conflict zone). By Maurizio Alí

En estado de sitio es el resultado de una investigación etnográfica conducida con el objetivo de documentar la vida diaria y la ecosofía de la comunidad indígena kuna de Arquía, a partir del contexto conflictivo en el cual se desarrolla su cotidianidad. Los kunas habitan la región del Urabá, al noroccidente de Colombia, cerca de la frontera con la República de Panamá, en una de las áreas del mundo con mayor riqueza y diversidad de especies animales y vegetales: un “paraíso verde” que, durante los últimos años, ha sido el epicentro de una crisis humanitaria muy grave. A pesar de la información de origen institucional que se niega a admitirlo, el Urabá se encuentra, todavía hoy, en estado de guerra. En la región están presentes grupos armados cuyo objetivo es el control de sus trochas, ríos y selvas, que se han vuelto rutas estratégicas utilizadas para el narcotráfico y el contrabando. Alrededor de los territorios kunas todavía se combate, todavía se mata, todavía hay desapariciones y violencia: el paisaje ecológico y social en que se desarrolla su cotidianidad está sufriendo daños irreversibles.

In a State of Siege reports the results of ethnographic research conducted with the aim of documenting the daily life and ecological wisdom of the indigenous community of the kuna of Arquía from the perspective of their context in a conflict zone and how their daily life unfolds.  The kunas live in the region of Urabá in the northwest of Columbia near the border with Panama, in one of the richest and most biodiverse areas of the world for both plant an animal species, a veritable paradise which in recent years has become the epicenter of a grave humanitarian crisis.  Despite systemic denial, Urubá now finds itself in a state of war.  Armed groups are present in the region who seek control of its trails, rivers and forests which have become strategic routes used for smuggling and trafficking of drugs.  Surrounding kuna territories there is still armed combat, killings, disappearances and violence; the ecological and the social landscapes in which every day life takes place are suffering irreversible damage.

Translation by ISE Newsletter Editor, Leslie Main Johnson, Secretary of the ISE

Alí, Maurizio. (2010). “En estado de sitio: los kuna en Urabá. Vida cotidiana de una comunidad indígena en una zona de conflicto”. Universidad de Los Andes, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Departamento de Antropología. Bogotá: Uniandes. ISBN 978-958-695-531-7.