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Strong sense of identity as part of cultural well-being: documenting plant knowledge.

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Title:Strong sense of identity as part of cultural well-being: documenting plant knowledge.
Authors:Benedicto, Elena
Salomon, Elizabeth
Contributors:Benedicto, Elena (speaker)
Salomon, Elizabeth (speaker)
Date Issued:05 Mar 2017
Description:Loss of cultural identity can lead to a sense of un-wellbeing, weakening the anchoring where any human being can thrive. Weakening of the density of cultural content leads to a debilitated cultural system, which in turn does not support the individual's and the community's sense of cohesion and belonging. Here, we report on a documentation project born within the framework of Participatory (Action) Research, PAR, and the collaboration of the [Authors], a team of indigenous researchers and an external researcher, in an indigenous community of Nicaragua. The main proposition here is that reinforcing cultural awareness through a documentation process feeding into variety of culturally appropriate channels increases the density of the cultural tissue and increases a sense of cultural belonging and, thus, cultural well-being. In particular, the documentation project (and the actions taken around it) focuses on recovering plant knowledge and finding culturally appropriate ways to re-feed the results back to the community at large, with the ultimate goal to re-densify the cultural tissue and with it increase the sense of well-being. The project had three steps. The first was the realization, within the activities of PAR, of the loss of a good portion of cultural knowledge about the existence and use of plants in the forest. The project, thus, initiated within the community and its parameters were determined by the members of the indigenous research team. The main motivation for this was the realization of the effects of loss on youth and general population. The second step consisted of the documentation phase itself and was divided into four stages: (i) preliminary: the indigenous team identified the knowledge-bearers; (ii) data collection: local teams of indigenous researchers and knowledge-bearers organize fieldtrips to the forest, plants are documented with pictures and voice recordings; (iii) data systematization: audio and visual data transcribed and organized into a database; (iv) indigenous researchers, knowledge-bearers and members decide the format(s) to transmit the knowledge. The third step crucially establishes which part is going to be made public and how. The indigenous team decided to prepare documents with information on the shape of the plant but minimal information on the use of the plants, to be furnished in the traditional ways. This last step has consequences for usual requirements for archival of documentation and, ultimately, for the declared and undeclared goals of documentation in academia and the western world.
Appears in Collections: 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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