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Talking the Walk: language as the missing ingredient of biodiversity conservation? An investigation of plant knowledge in the Western Usambara Mountains,

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Presentation on theme: "Talking the Walk: language as the missing ingredient of biodiversity conservation? An investigation of plant knowledge in the Western Usambara Mountains,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Talking the Walk: language as the missing ingredient of biodiversity conservation? An investigation of plant knowledge in the Western Usambara Mountains, Tanzania Samantha Ross University of East Anglia

2 The affliction of linguistic diversity ?

3 Biocultural Diversity (BCD) BCD encompasses the total variety exhibited by the worlds natural and cultural systems and refers to the fundamental linkages and interdependence between the various manifestations of the diversity of life: biodiversity, cultural and linguistic diversity (Terralingua, 2006) BCD Linguistic Diversity Cultural Diversity Biological Diversity

4 Linguistic Diversity MT Cultural Diversity Biological Diversity Indigenous KnowledgeIndigenous Knowledge Indigenous KnowledgeIndigenous Knowledge Socially Embedded Socially Constructed Co-Evolution

5 Global linguistic diversity Global linguistic diversity Ethnologue (2006) Global 25 biodiversity hotspots Myers (1998)

6 Green are countries in top 25 for endemic languages Yellow top 25 for endemic vertebrates Red are countries in top 25 for both Source: Harmon 1996a Overlap of biological and cultural diversity

7 A critique of BCD Little empirical evidence exists for BCD claimsLittle empirical evidence exists for BCD claims Theoretical gaps exist within the relativist BCD paradigmTheoretical gaps exist within the relativist BCD paradigm Multilingualism or hybrid languages might be as equally able to transfer knowledge as mother tonguesMultilingualism or hybrid languages might be as equally able to transfer knowledge as mother tongues Evidence of indigenous communities retaining sustainable livelihoods despite entry of foreign languageEvidence of indigenous communities retaining sustainable livelihoods despite entry of foreign language Ecological noble savage – the romantic versus realityEcological noble savage – the romantic versus reality Preservationist or conservationist - Where to place dynamism and adaptability?Preservationist or conservationist - Where to place dynamism and adaptability?

8 Primary research questions How do changes in language affect peoples knowledge and practice around plants?How do changes in language affect peoples knowledge and practice around plants? What are the implications for biodiversity conservation of maintaining cultural and linguistic diversity?What are the implications for biodiversity conservation of maintaining cultural and linguistic diversity?

9 A comparative framework related to language and biodiversity classification Folk Classification ROMANTICUNIVERSALIST - Traditional - Relativist - Essentialist - Inductive - Embedded - Participatory - Preservationist - Modern - Universal - Reductionist - Deductive - Dis-embodied - Individual - Conservationist Linguistic Relativity Cosmology BIOCULTURAL DIVERSITY Linguistic Universals Indigenous Knowledge BerkesLévi-Strauss Cognition BoasBloch Language Sapir, WhorfChomsky Biodiversity PoseyTerborgh Linnaean Hierarchy Folk classification after Berlin

10 Language & Cognition Linguistic Universals Innate grammar, words and knowledge Tre e Yellow Flower Giraffe Language is instinct

11 Classification & Nomenclature Linnaean Hierarchy Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus Species Western based science, morphological features Universal / objective Disembodied from social relations Folk Classification Unique Beginner - plant / animal Life form – tree, vine, mammal Generic – oak, dog Specific – white oak Varietal - slippery white oak Cultural, morphological and behavioural features Subjective based on cultural importance, essentialist, socially embedded Berlin at al (1972): Six shallow universals, iconic and arbitrary Lévi-Strauss (1962): structural universal myths

12 Indigenous Knowledge only? is a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs handed down through generations by cultural transmission about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment (Gadgil, Berkes and Folke (1999:8). IK Contextual – place specific Culturally relevant Innovative & flexible Situated Learning and practices SK De-contextualised Theory based Global Universals Top-down learning

13 How might language be relevant to biodiversity conservation? A direct role as the carrier of knowledge: Ecological Cultural Experience of practices An indirect role where language operates as a form of social capital within institutions Are hybrid languages and multilingual states equally able to transfer any knowledge?

14 Research Questions What factors affect the transference of indigenous knowledge?What factors affect the transference of indigenous knowledge? Are changes in mother tongue use linked to a loss in biodiversity related conservation?Are changes in mother tongue use linked to a loss in biodiversity related conservation? How do changes in biodiversity related indigenous knowledge affect changes in biodiversity management or use?How do changes in biodiversity related indigenous knowledge affect changes in biodiversity management or use?

15 Tanzania 127 languages Kiswahili - lingua franca Formal education use Swahili and English Vernaculars no official place in society But used in rural areas, by the elderly, at home, as a unifier and identifier of tribe Kisambaa a live language – but for how long?

16 West Usambara Mountains High endemic species – 25% 1 of 17 most threatened tropical forest ecosystems High population Land use fragmented Poor agricultural land increases forest dependence Forest access controlled

17 Yamba Rural; isolated; unacculturated Research Approach EthnographicEthnographic 2 comparable communities:2 comparable communities: Lushoto – ethnically diverse; 2 hospitals; 2 secondary and 4 primary schools; good road access; 1 central market; multilingual Yamba – 100% Sambaa;1 health clinic; 1 primary school; no road access; no market; monolingual Similarities Same MT Same socioeconomic base Same cultural history Participants: Grandparents, Parents, Adolescents, Children Key Informants: Healers, Community Leaders, Market Traders, Teachers Lushoto Wide soc/eco base; acculturated

18 The Research Design Exploratory Reflexive An attempt to find key links Offers opportunities to pose questions Offers opportunities for more exploration A comparative study will hopefully shed light on the concepts involved

19 Methodology flowchart Methods Ethnobotanical Survey Structured Interviews Semi-structured Interviews Participant Observation Focus Group Discussions PRA Statistical Analysis Participants Key Informants: Plant users; healers; teachers Cross section of communities: gender; age; occupation; education level; linguistic ability Outcomes K levels – transference techniques Language use – ability, choice, frequency of use Plant uses and practices Map of plant locations – past and present Conservation practices Local perceptions of BD/L/C change and possible reasons Ideas for social-cultural affects on BD K transference

20 Research deliverables Add to BCD knowledge and fill some theoretical gaps – add to Terralinguas Global Source BookAdd to BCD knowledge and fill some theoretical gaps – add to Terralinguas Global Source Book Document best practices for biodiversity conservation in Lushoto region and highlight future policy implicationsDocument best practices for biodiversity conservation in Lushoto region and highlight future policy implications Explore the relevance of indigenous languages for the retention and transference of ethnobotanical knowledge for biodiversity conservationExplore the relevance of indigenous languages for the retention and transference of ethnobotanical knowledge for biodiversity conservation Offer locally based suggestions on how to sustain IKOffer locally based suggestions on how to sustain IK Add knowledge to language of instruction in education debateAdd knowledge to language of instruction in education debate Develop plant species inventories for educational purposes in all relevant languagesDevelop plant species inventories for educational purposes in all relevant languages

21 Research Plan DateLocationObjective Oct Oct 2005 UKLiterature review; refinement of research skills – presentations, essays, field methodologies, computer skills (NVivo, Access, SPSS); specialist courses in linguistics and environmental measuring and mapping; language training Nov Mar 2006 Tanzanialanguage training; meet with university and NGO collaborators; locate plant baseline data at National Herbarium; plant identification training; field site identification Mar 2006 – May 2006 UKProgress meeting with supervisors; presentation of procedural paper May Jun 2006 TanzaniaSet-up fieldwork logistics; revisit collaborators Aug 2006 – Jan 2007 TanzaniaIndigenous language training; participant observations; scoping study; focus group discussions to establish species to be examined; initial data collection Feb 2007 – Jul 2007 TanzaniaStructured and semi-structured interviews to establish social groupings and plant knowledge; primary data collection Aug Jul 2008 UKAnalysis and write up of thesis

22 Ethics Only use previously documented plant species – avoid intellectual property rights / bio- prospectingOnly use previously documented plant species – avoid intellectual property rights / bio- prospecting Consent and confidentialityConsent and confidentiality Guidance from respected knowledgeable person from area – able to speak Kiswahili and Kisambaa – to guide cultural aspectsGuidance from respected knowledgeable person from area – able to speak Kiswahili and Kisambaa – to guide cultural aspects

23 The affliction …… ……or the blessing of linguistic diversity?

24 How is knowledge carried & transferred? Linguistic Relativists Language and Knowledge from direct experience Local language to name, classify and practice Knowledge based in locality therefore use local language Direct use value of biodiversity – livelihoods Indirect use – ecological services Non-use value - noble savage, intruding wastrel or fallen angel? Linguistic Universals Folk Classification – universals Language – innate and instinctive Continued presence of colonised indigenous communities using L2 Dynamism and adaptation Therefore, how central is language to biodiversity conservation?

25 Cultural diversityBiological diversity Endemic languagesFlowering plant speciesEndemic higher vertebrate species Papua New Guinea (847)Brazil (55,000)Australia (1,346) Indonesia (655)Colombia (35,000)Mexico (761) Nigeria (376)China (30,000)Brazil (725) India (309)Mexico (20,000-30,000)Indonesia (673) Australia (261)Venezuela (15,000-25,000)Madagascar (537) Mexico (230)USSR (former) (22,000)Philippines (437) Cameroon (201)Indonesia (20,000)India (373) Brazil (185)Ecuador (16,500-20,000)Peru (332) Zaire (158)USA (18,956)Colombia (330) Philippines (153)Bolivia (15,000-18,000)Ecuador (294) USA (143)Australia (15,000)USA (284) Vanuatu (105)India (15,000)China (256) Tanzania (101)Peru (13,000)Papua New Guinea (203) Sudan (97)Malaysia (12,000)Venezuela (186) Malaysia (92)Thailand (12,000)Argentina (168) Ethiopia (90)Costa Rica (10,000-12,000)Cuba (152) China (77)Zaire (11,000)South Africa (146) Peru (75)Papua New Guinea (10,000)Zaire (134) Chad (74)Tanzania (10,000)Sri Lanka (126) USSR (former) (71)Argentina (9,000)New Zealand (120) Solomon Islands (69)Madagascar (8,000-10,000)Tanzania (113)

26 ApproachDefinitionLocationParticipantsInfo GatheredOutcomesCaveats Ethnobotani cal survey Zent (2001) Gavin & Anderson (2005) Leesberg & Chavez (1994) Botanical and cultural inventory of names, uses of local plant sps (MT and L2) via free walking and individual sorting of sps. Participatory In situ Village environs: agri spaces, used pathways, homestead gardens Targeted, gender equal, specific plant users Free lists: culturally imp sps. Index of relative saliency: ranking most to least imp categories. Pile Sorts: hierarchical clustering and final use categories. Voucher species: name, when collect, location, use, quantity, opportunistically used or sold Voucher species (VS) identified as most common, or frequently named demonstrating cultural import and salience of sps. Culturally sensitive perceptions of sps use. IK levels of participants. Account for seasonality. Account for social preferences of participant. Account for endemic / exotic plants. Structured Interviews Martin (2004) Hunn (2001) Berlin (1992) Nazarea (1999) Cunningham (2002) Set, structured questions. Conducted in L2 Encourage MT for plant K questions. NVivo to analyse Individual interviews in neutral places. Edu setting – formal and situated. Social cross- section. Elders Key Informants Teachers General social info: age; birth place (in-migration); edu level (boarding); bilingual ability; plant K in MT. Lang use MT / L2 plotted against social variables to assess frequency, competency Assess bilingual ability and frequency of MT / L2 use. Specific lexes used. Assess when, where, who uses which lang. IK levels of participants. Gender issues Education level Semi-struc interviews Zent (2001) Leading questions. NVivo to analyse Casual conversati on Cross-section Elders Key Informants Plant distribution, frequency. Mkt value > / < Life histories Cultural memory of BD use past and present. IK level of participants. Availability of archival data. Memory reliance

27 PRA Martin (2004) Nazarea (1999) Community mapping. Map useful plant loc now and in past. Preferential Ranking: rank VS in order of scarcity, eco & use value, explain choices. Paired comps: elicit, compare suggestions for BD loss. Neutral location. Social cross- section divided into gender and age groups. Location and temporal change of VS now, 5, 10, 20 years previously. Adaptations to changes in BD with varying plant sps grown in gardens. Plant preference change: affect of external pressures such as health clinics, bio-prospecting, market orientation, agri sps. Frequency of MT / L2 use. Rank importance of pressures on BD. Level of IK. BD change and local explanations for this. External influences / pressures on change. Cultural preferences and perceptions. Language choice. Local perceptions of external and internal pressures. IK levels of participants. Some information based on memory but enough participants will generate a consensus. External aid / development may shadow natural processes. Participant Observation Observation of plant acquirement, prep meths and uses. Mkt presence of plants. Presence of plants in gardens. Lang use in informal / formal edu settings. NVivo to analyse In situ: village fields, gardens, schools, informal edu settings Whole community Frequency of use of MT / L2 in discussing plants and IK. Specific lexes used when and by whom. Frequency use of MT / L2 in learning environments. Bilingual ability. Examination of lang choice. Exploration of functionality of lang. Effect of social variables on lang use. Indication of social status of lang. Assess intergenerational lang transference. Indication of need of MT for IK transference.

28 Informal Consensus Analysis Romney, Weller and Batchelder (1997) Zent (2001) Lizarralde (2004) Multivariate analysis of patterns of agreement. Validity / acceptability of a response assessed through model of consensus. Desk based – using Anthrop ac statistical analysis program me. Previous data K level of an informant expressed as competency score based on consensus of entire group. Distribution of plant K within community. IK as known in MT / L2. Division of K between social variables. Not appropriate for specialist K group as skew results Linear Regression Analysis Zent (2001) Assess relationship of plant- naming abilities, preparation and use against social variables – age, education, bilingual ability Desk based – using Anthropa c statistical analysis program me. Previous dataAge - Temporal change in communitys culture. Edu – exposure to indoctrination to non- native K that competes with IK Bilingual Ability – L2 level demonstrates contact with non-MT speakers. Influence of social factors on IK plant K. Historical change. K always > with age. Focus Group Discussion Groups of 6-8 of same gender and social status. Divided by age. Open questions to guide discussio n in neutral loc. Identified from previous participants. Plant use and practices. Important sps lists. Sps distribution > or <. Frequency of MT or LT use. Time line of village history. Outside influences on community. BD change. IK levels of participants. Be aware of anthropogenic factors

29 Psychological – Prevents feelings of inferiority and alienation which may arise when learning in a colonial tongue so personal and conceptual foundation for learning is not undermined by an L2. · Educational - Grasps new concepts more easily and encourages freedom of expression. Deeper understanding of language and how to use it effectively. · Cultural Identity - Language is inextricably bound with cultural identity – instils respect for own culture and language. · Linguistic – easier to learn an L2 as languages are able to nurture each other. · Socio-economic – An L2 or L3 offers more promise of economic advancement and a higher status associated with knowledge of these languages. The mother tongue promotes faster learning of an L2 or 3, better adjustment and therefore less alienation from society. · Financial – A colonial language assures a country international access but investment in a mother tongue will eventually prove more productive in terms of access to information and knowledge for the general population. Advantages of the Mother Tongue in relation to education (adapted from Moyo 2002, Cummins 2000) (adapted from Moyo 2002, Cummins 2000)

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31 Biodiversity Linguistic Diversity Cognition IK Ethnobotany Co-Evolution - CULTURE - socially embedded socially constructed The Functionality of the mother tongue: Its role in conserving biodiversity


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