On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge and the Environment (PDF)
Edited by Luisa Maffi
Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001
600 pp., PDF
On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge, and the Environment is a foundational text in the field of knowledge and action that has become known as biocultural diversity. The book is based in part on the 1996 conference “Endangered Languages, Endangered Knowledge, Endangered Environments” (Berkeley, CA, October 1996). Organized by Terralingua, the conference pioneered the exploration of the interlinkages between linguistic, cultural, and biological diversities and of the implications of the ongoing loss of all three aspects of the diversity of life.
Combining research and advocacy, the book brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the social and natural sciences as well as cultural advocates, human rights specialists, and indigenous knowledge keepers to discuss the ways in which biological, linguistic, and cultural diversities are linked, how the “converging extinction crisis” of biocultural diversity affects the vitality and resilience of people and the planet, and what measures are needed to help preserve and perpetuate the biocultural variety of life on Earth.
Part 1 of the book focuses on the emerging theory of biocultural diversity. Part 2 presents case studies of biocultural diversity persistence and loss from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, showing how the loss of linguistic and cultural diversity — often involving indigenous peoples’ removal from their lands, suppression of their languages, and the loss of place-based traditional environmental knowledge — can affect biodiversity, and vice versa how the depletion of biodiversity can contribute to eroding local cultures and languages. Part 3 suggests new directions for research, documentation, training, and action in order to conserve biocultural diversity.
This groundbreaking collection reveals a broad picture of why diversity matters. It offers a common foundation and practical avenues for preserving the wealth of biological life as well as the riches represented by Indigenous and local languages and cultures and the traditional knowledge they embody.
Contributors: Luisa Maffi, David Harmon, Brent D. Mishler, Greville C. Corbett, Eric A. Smith, Eugene S. Hunn, Peter Mühlhäusler, Gary P. Nabhan, Scott Atran, Jane H. Hill, Stanford Zent, Phillip Wolff, Douglas L. Medin, Andrew Pawley, Jeffrey Wollock, Manuel Lizarralde, Katharine Milton, William L. Balée, Herman M. Batibo, Margaret Florey, Ian Saem Majnep, Felipe S. Molina, Christine Padoch, Miguel Pinedo-Vasquez, Darrell A. Posey, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Denny Moore, D. Michael Warren, James D. Nations, Victor M. Toledo, Thomas J. Carlson, Ben G. Blount, Stephen B. Brush, Richard B. Norgaard, L. Frank Manriquez