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Language shift and Traditional Medicinal Plant Knowledge, in Tilantongo, the Mixteca, Mexico

Piestrzynska, Anna (2019) Language shift and Traditional Medicinal Plant Knowledge, in Tilantongo, the Mixteca, Mexico. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:84854)

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Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) and language shift in the Mixtec community of Tilantongo in Oaxaca, Mexico. TEK recognizes the link between biological and cultural diversity, while in the discourses of endangerment, language has been put forward as the organic link between culture and environment. Studying what happens to TEK when a community experiences language shift will enhance our understanding of how the diversities (biological, cultural and linguistic) that make up life interact, potentially advancing the biocultural diversity theory and helping us formulate more informed responses to the endangerment crises that we are facing today. This thesis shows that when language shifts, medicinal plant knowledge shifts as well and while doing this it changes. The medicinal plant knowledge in Spanish is more prevalent in Tilantongo than that in Mixtec. As language shift entails the endangerment of the original language, medicinal plant knowledge shift entails the endangerment of the original knowledge framework. Some elements are transferred into the new language and the new medicinal plant knowledge framework, while others are not. This is related to the focus of the discourses that differ between the original and the new language, reflecting changes in the social and physical environment. This thesis focuses on medicinal plant knowledge as a conglomeration of several TEK domains. This reinterpretation has consequences for how we study and approach medicinal plant knowledge, TEK, and biocultural diversity. Medicinal plant knowledge is intrinsically linked to other domains of TEK related to cosmovision, illness etiology, religion and the hot cold system. The hot cold classification system is an integral part of how people think about their environment and the interactions it has with the human body, including medicinal plants and their use. I suggest that the hot cold classification system also constitutes a TEK system and that the key to understanding it is to situate it and study it within the framework of TEK.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Waldstein, Anna
Uncontrolled keywords: TEK, traditional environmental knowledge, language shift, medicinal plant knowledge, Mixteca, Tilantongo, medicinal plant knowledge shift, hot cold system
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
R Medicine > RV Botanic, Thomsonian, and eclectic medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2020 16:10 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2021 14:36 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/84854 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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