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Ritual, landscapes of exchange, and the domestication of Canarium: a Seram case study. Asian Perspectives

Ellen, Roy (2019) Ritual, landscapes of exchange, and the domestication of Canarium: a Seram case study. Asian Perspectives. Asian Perspectives, 58 (2). pp. 261-286. ISSN 0066-8435. E-ISSN 1535-8283. (KAR id:77679)


It is now widely accepted that a major historic pathway to food production in the tropics has involved the management of forest and reliance on tree resources. Using ethnographic and ethnobotanical data from Seram in the Moluccas, this paper illustrates how this might have happened in one part of island southeast Asia. The focus is on the genus Canarium, species of which produce proteinaceous nuts that have been shown to be an important part of local diets, ethnographically, historically and prehistorically. In order to understand how such food-procurement systems evolve I suggest that we need to examine the biocultural dynamic established over the long term between different species, types of arboriculture, and cultivation strategies. One factor involved was most likely subsistence pressure, but I argue that exchange has also been an important driver in relation to Canarium in particular and the modification of forest landscapes more generally. Hence my use of the term ‘landscapes of exchange’. While we tend to think of the main cause of subsistence change as dietary need, it is often the social and ritual significance of particular species that drives ecological and genetic change in anthropic contexts.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Nuaulu, Seram, Moluccas, Indonesia; Canarium; domestication; arboriculture; landscapes of exchange; ritual selection
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Roy Ellen
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2019 08:28 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2021 13:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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Ellen, Roy.

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