ANT 393 • Introduction to Ethnobotany
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
Ethnobotany, is the interdisciplinary field that studies the relationships between humans and plants. It is not simply the study of plants that are useful to humans, but rather includes the placement of plants within their total cultural context in particular societies. It includes the ways that humans perceive the different kinds of plants, the ways they classify plants, the things they do to plants (such as destroying "weeds", protecting certain "wild" plants, and "domesticating" and planting specific kinds of food and medicinal plants), and the ways in which various members of the plant world influence humans and their lifeways. This course proposes to introduce the student to such general topics as systems of plant classification and nomenclature, plants and archeaology, plant cultivation, food plants, medicinal plants, entheogenic plants and divination, plants in cosmology and religion, plants in construction and furniture, plants in clothing and ornament, plants in discourse, plants and the question of pre-Columbian contacts, and the impact of humans on plants (including forest management). These topics will be explored in a seminar format and often exemplified from a perspective of indigenous Mesoamerican communities. No knowledge of botany is presupposed or required.
Required: Paul E. Minnis (Ed.) 2000. Ethnobotany: A Reader; U. of Oklahoma Press [PEM] Michael J. Balick, Paul A. Cox 1997. Plants, People and Culture : The Science of Ethnobotany; a Scientific American Library Book (Paperback Textbook, 1997) Recommended: Richard Evans Schultes & Siri von Reis 1995. Ethnobotany: Evolution of a Discipline. Dioscorides Press/Timber Press [RES] GN 476.73 E84 1995 PCL Stacks