Regions of the world with greatest biodiversity also tend to be linguistically diverse, and languages reflect the relationship between their speakers and their natural environment. The panelists will discuss their experiences in documenting ethnobotanical knowledge in the context of documenting lesser described languages in various regions of the world – southern and eastern Arabia, West Africa, and Australia, and the link between preservation of indigenous knowledge and the maintenance of linguistic diversity. Topics to be addressed include the symbiotic relationship between language and nature, diverse approaches to plant classification, the importance of ethnopharmacological knowledge and traditional plant uses, the role of indigenous knowledge in addressing climate change and the impact of the loss of linguistic diversity on our knowledge of the natural world, and challenges and solutions in ethnobotanical fieldwork.
Janet Watson is a Professor in Arabic Linguistics at the University of Leeds and a director of the Centre for Endangered Languages, Cultures and Ecosystems. Her research centres on the documentation and description of various Southern Arabian languages. In this context, she has led two recent multidisciplinary projects on language, ecology and biocultural diversity in Southern and Eastern Arabia.
Rajindra Puri is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology at the University of Kent. He is engaged in a long-term project of documenting the ethnobiological knowledge of the inhabitants of a rainforest valley in Indonesian Borneo and their adaptations to climate variability and change, and has also worked on similar topics on sites in northern Vietnam, Morocco, Namibia, Malaysia, the Iberian peninsula, and the UK. He has also worked as an ethnobiology consultant on a Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) project.
Serge Sagna is a Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Manchester. He is involved in the documentation and description of both adults' and children's language use in Gújjolaay Eegimaa, an Atlantic language of southern Senegal. Taking an anthropological perspective in his linguistic research has also led him to studying ethnobotanical classification and agricultural practices.
Eva Schultze-Berndt is a Professor in Linguistics at the University of Manchester. Her research has involved the documentation and description, including aspects of ethnobiological knowledge, of two indigenous languages of northern Australia.
This panel discussion is co-hosted by CIDRAL and the Linguistic Diversity Collective.