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Chapter 6

Ethnobotany: one concept and


many interpretations
Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque1 and
Julio Alberto Hurrell2

Introduction

The use of the prefix “ethno” to denominate new disciplines has become wide-
spread in recent years. However, the use of this term is rarely accompanied by a
discussion of the theoretical and epistemological limits of the new areas of study (see
chapters 3 and 4 in this book). One of the criticisms of the various “ethno-sciences”
is becoming more and more pertinent; namely the “excessive tendency to fragmenta-
tion with absence or insufficient construction of theoretical objects” (Villamar 1997).
Regrettably, scientists rarely reflect on the epistemological or methodological as-
pects of their own work. Of course, there are some honorable exceptions. However,
some scientists consider thinking something over to be a philosophical matter, but
they lose sight of the fact that reflection is a human need. In science, to be reflexive
contributes to minimizing conceptual noise (for this discussion, this is considered to
be the noise produced by the multiplicity of meanings, also called polysemy). The
creation of new disciplines frequently seems to overlap theoretically with others that
have already been proposed. In the context of the proliferation of new disciplines,
the prefix “ethno” has acquired different meanings. Even within a discipline with a
solidly built history, such as ethnobotany, there can be several different uses of the
term. This paper will consider the diverse meanings that the term “ethnobotany”
1 Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Departamento de Biologia, Área de Botânica. Laboratório de Etnobotâni-
ca Aplicada (LEA) (www.etnobotanicaaplicada.com.br). Dom Manoel de Medeiros s/n. Dois Irmãos, Recife, Pernam-
buco, Brazil. (e-mail: upa@db.ufrpe.br)
2 Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo. Laboratorio de Etnobotánica y Botánica
Aplicada (LEBA). Calle 64 nro. 3, 1900-La Plata, Argentina. Investigador CONICET (e-mail: juliohurrell@hotmail.
com)
88 Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque and Natalia Hanazaki (eds.)

now carries and will relate these meanings to the various studies in which
they are used.

Two pathways of ethnobotany

The definition offered by a researcher for a given discipline should, a prio-


ri, reflect the theoretical orientations and understanding of that discipline. By
employing a historical perspective, it is possible to draw a sketch of a particu-
lar concept to determine how our knowledge and use of the concept have
changed over time (as is natural). Uses of the term “ethnobotany” are particu-
larly varied, and the historical use of this term has serious implications for
current scientific practices. Villamar (1997) recognized three positions re-
garding the place and time that ethnobotany emerged as a field, taking its
history in Mexico as a reference: 1) the “universal pathway” suggests that
ethnobotany begins when plants and people came into contact; 2) the “en-
dogenous pathway”, which considers that this discipline was constructed in a
country by local researchers; and 3) the “exogenous pathway,” which incorpo-
rates that ethnobotany was created by researchers in other countries, such as
France and the United States where the first concepts of ethnobotany have
been originated. We will make use of this author’s analysis to present our own
view on the concept of ethnobotany, using a modification of the two “path-
ways” which reflect the more general character of this analysis: the “universal
pathway” and the “particularistic” or “local pathway”.
According to Villamar (1997), advocates of the universal pathway argue
that ethnobotany exists since people and plants have been in contact. Villa-
mar presents Hernández (1982) as one of the main advocates of this view in
Mexico. This position is strongly evident in the following quotation from
Hernández:
“This idea3, I do not accept because we advocate that the
traditional knowledge on the human-plant relationship has an
antiquity of about 4000 B.C, since there are documents from this age
which broach the theme, especially in agronomy and medicinal plants. I
am also against the idea that ethnobotany comes from the definition of
Harshberger (…)” (Hernández 1990, cited by Villamar 1997).

More than a position on the origin of ethnobotany, this view has implica-
tions for how the concept is structured, as it seems to imply that ethnobotany
is not an academic science, in the current sense of science that we handle: it is
3 Exogenous position.
Recent Developments and Case Studies in Ethnobotany 89

a kind of knowledge that is demarcated for the rules that the scientists follow,
where they validate these rules with their actions. The “universal pathway”, in
the sense that ethnobotany has existed for as long as people and plants have
been in contact, brings up two important points. The first point relates to the
historical context, because we usually consider the past with our own current
scientific parameters. For example: the Arab medical treatise Taqwin al sihha
(‘Maintenance of Health’) by Ibn Butlan († 1038), known as Tacuinum Sani-
tatis in the European Middle Ages, contains medical matters based on healthy
food, agricultural practices and related issues. This treatise represented a com-
pendium of knowledge about plants and their uses for a long period. How-
ever, current (Western) science did not exist at those times, and we would be
wrong if we believed that ethnobotany is present in current scientific under-
takings. Ethnobotany is not present because we define this discipline in our
own actual parameters. What do we know about the medieval Arab and/or
European people’s way of thinking? We see the past through the crystal of the
parameters of our present time, and we sometimes confuse the historical con-
text: in this case, the knowledge about the relationships between people and
plants in the past is confused with our current definition of a scientific disci-
pline. In terms of the language, we could say in natural or colloquial language
that ethnobotany has existed since humans and plants have been in contact.
However, in scientific language, we cannot say this. In any case, human and
plants have been in contact since the origin of the human being; the plants
precede us. The second point regarding the “universal pathway” is derived
from the former point: it is a mistake to consider the discipline as its object of
study. For example, anyone can say “the ecology of the Andean tropics”. This
terminology seems to reflect the functionality of that kind of ecosystem, but
the Andean tropics have no “ecology”. Ecology is “the discipline” that deals
with the complexity of that ecosystem or the relationships within that system,
or complex of systems. This is also true for ethnobotany (the discipline) and
the relationships between people and plants.
If the basic definition of ethnobotany —the study of the relationship be-
tween people and plants— is assumed, then Hernández’s position raises the
question of who studies this relationship. In this Universalist perspective, we
believe that the answer would be the actual “native” members of the culture
in question. Here, we suggest the possibility that a native member of a certain
group may perform ethnobotanical research on his own group if he is guided
by the rules and principles of Western science. For example, one of the authors
of this paper (Albuquerque) recently participated in an ethnobotanical study
of an important ethnic group in northeastern Brazil where the study team was
composed of both native and non-native researchers with different theoretical
90 Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque and Natalia Hanazaki (eds.)

orientations and academic backgrounds. Today, some authors use the expres-
sion “ethnobotanical knowledge” in the titles of their papers (e.g. Azaizeh et
al. 2003; Reyes-García et al. 2007) to denote the body of knowledge of tradi-
tional or indigenous societies, which suggests alliances with the perspective
defined here as the universalist pathway.
We trace the formal proposition of the term ethnobotany in the particu-
laristic or local pathway (also called the “exogenous” pathway by Villamar
1997), and thus what we consider to be its formal creation in English- or
French-speaking countries, according to Villamar (1997). Early attempts at a
definition of this term include the American effort represented by Harsh-
berger (1896), and also that of Augustin P. De Candolle for the French, who
defined the study of the relationships between plants and people as the field
of “Applied Botany” in 18194 (Villamar 1997). We are not familiar with the
use of the term “ethnobotany” before Harshberger5, although the idea of a
branch of science examining the relationship between people and plants has
a long history. One implication of these attempts, as one could infer from the
universalist pathway, is that taking the relationship of people and plants as a
focus of scientific research produces scientists who identify themselves as eth-
nobotanists. Accordingly, employing the particularistic pathway leads to an
idea of the discipline that is diametrically opposed to the idea that is gener-
ated by the universalist pathway. In the particularistic case, ethnobotany
would be an academic science, while in the universalist case, it would be a
science of “the other.” There are researchers (see Clément 1988) who, in the
latter case, choose to employ the term “traditional or local botanical knowl-
edge”, or ethno-botany (with a hyphen) to represent this idea6.
We agree with the universalist pathway’s perspective in its view that the
relationship between plants and people is ancient, and we are according to the
fact that the human being has always had some kind of “botanical knowl-
edge”, which is evident for many authors. However we also advocate for a
particularistic pathway for the practice of forming researcher programs based
on the paradigm of Western science. Thus, we understand ethnobotanical
knowledge as the scientific knowledge produced within the framework of
Western science from the study of the relationships between people and
plants. This does not exclude the possibility that a dialogue may be opened
through the encounter between the academic and “traditional” knowledge
systems. This dialogue is always welcome.
4 In the Barrau’s (1971) words, “proto-ethnobotanists”, precursors of the ethnobotany.
5 In the same year, Fewkes (1896) used the term ethnobotany.
6 The studies of the “traditional botanical knowledge” can be complemented with the study of “non-traditional
botanical knowledge” in the case of the investigations of urban ethnobotany. In our current industrialized so-
cieties, “the others” are other people such as ourselves (Hurrell et al. 2008; Pochettino et al. 2008), as we will
discuss further on in this text.
Recent Developments and Case Studies in Ethnobotany 91

Ethnobotany and its approaches

The two viewpoints of the term ‘ethnobotany’ do not seem to generate


conflicts between the ethnobotanists, but the same is not true for the the-
matic axes of ethnobotany that were categorized previously by Hurrell (1987).
These include ethnobotany as a field of botany; as a field of anthropology; as
an ethnoscientific discipline; as a discipline of integration or synthesis and as
an ecological discipline. It is our intention here not to criticize any particular
approach but to emphasize that the scenario characterized in the 1980s con-
tinues to a certain extent today and that it is worth continuing the discussion
of these fundamental epistemological questions.
Ethnobotany as a field of anthropology or botany. Villamar (1997) draws at-
tention to the fact that in France, Jacques Barrau, an important researcher,
has called attention to the interdisciplinary7 character of ethnobotany, stating
that it belongs in the field of ethnology and not in that of botany. Far from
being controversial, this position simply reflects what we call one of the four
approaches of ethnobotany. For some researchers, ethnobotany is a segment
of anthropology with links to botany (see comments in Gispert et al. 1988)8.
Another perspective would be to consider ethnobotany as a segment of botany
that has links to the human sciences, an approach that is in line with Harsh-
berger’s definition of ethnobotany (see Hurrell 1987). These two approaches
have a similar comprehension of ethnobotany as the study of the relationship
between people and plants, but the two approaches place the emphasis on
only one element of this relationship, either people or plants, but not on the
complexity of the relationship.
Ethnobotany as an ethnoscientific discipline. On the one hand, following the
universalist pathway, one perspective seems to be the result of the vision of
ethnobotany as a ethnoscience (the science of “the other”). Sturtevant (1964)
exemplifies this position when he states, for example, that “(…) ethnobotany is
a specific cultural conception on the world, rather than (as would also be more
7 In the context of the interactions between disciplines, interdisciplinary contact implies mutual benefits for
each discipline. However, many of the efforts dedicated to obtaining those benefits remain only good inten-
tions. Many interdisciplinary efforts remain at a multidisciplinary level, where the disciplines cooperate but the
mutual benefits are few (Caravantes García 1980).
8 The link between ethnobotany and anthropology is established chiefly with ethnography. Nevertheless, there
are numerous antecedents of connections with archeology that are derived and which have been termed pala-
eoethnobotany (Van Zeist & Caspary 1984) and archaeoethnobotany (Kaplan 1963) or archaeobotany (Pochetti-
no & Capparelli 2004; see also Ford 1978, and Schultes & von Reis 1995). In general terms, these are descrip-
tive studies of the functional role of the plants in the past for a given culture. In methodological and
theoretical terms, the distance that separates ethnography of archeology is the same as that which separates
ethnobotany of palaeo/archaeoethnobotany (Hurrell 1987; Albuquerque 2005). In the same way, for the his-
torical times, historical ethnobotany – defined as the study of ancient writings related with people-plant rela-
tionships (sensu Casale 2007; see also Medeiros in this book)– presents the same methodological restrictions
as the historical research (see the previous discussion about the Tacuinum Sanitatis case). An epistemological
discussion about the “sciences of the past” would exceed the limits of this contribution.
92 Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque and Natalia Hanazaki (eds.)

common) to be a description and uses of plants based on our own binomial tax-
onomy.” The other perspective comes from the understanding that ethnobot-
any expresses the researcher’s view on the practices and knowledge of “the
other,” although without necessarily having the connotation of the “exotic” or
completely foreign. This “other” can be ourselves or our own culture or soci-
ety, as seen, for example, in studies of urban ethnobotany (e.g., Ceuterick et
al. 2008). Here, we see another aspect of ethnobotany that it is considered to
be an ethnoscientific discipline. Ehtnobotany sometimes seems to require a
study of the scientific etnhobotanical knowledge of ethnobotanists (a luck of
ethnobotany of ethnobotany, a reflexive process) as one of the authors tried to
express previously (Hurrell 1991).
There is a discussion similar to that made above by Alves (2008), who
defines three meanings for the prefix “ethno” that may be prototypical of
three potential relationships between the researcher and “the other” (an issue
that we previously raised only to emphasize its presence as a current para-
digm). It is the third and final of Alves’ meanings of the term that we would
like to discuss here, as it represents a point that we made earlier: the issue of
intercultural dialogue, where “‘ethno-’ indicates not only ‘the other’; therefore,
‘ethnozoology’ should not be seen only as ‘Zoology of the other’ but rather ‘ interface
or intersection between knowledge on the animals’, to enhance joints, compari-
sons, connections, integration and perhaps multilateral learning” (Alves 2008).
According to Alves (2008), this idea is seen clearly in the concept of “ethnope-
dology” described by Williams & Ortiz-Solorio (1981), when compared with
Stutervant (1964). For example:
(…) folk perception of soil properties and processes, folk soil
classification and taxonomy, folk theories and explanations of soil
properties and dynamics, folk soil management, folk perceptions of the
relationships between soil and plant domains, comparison between folk
and technical soil science, assessment of the role of folk soil perception in
agricultural practices and other behavioral realms all may been compassed
under the term “ethnopedology.” The term is used here in a broader
sense than is usually implied in ethnoscience, or in the terms ethno-plus
academic discipline, for example ethnoichthyology, ethnoornithology,
ethnobotany, or folkscience (Williams & Ortiz-Solorio 1981).

For Alves (2008), the term “comparisons” confers a more inclusive view
for the prefix “ethno” when compared with other views (see Sturtevant 1964).
However, we believe that comparisons do not necessarily lead to intercultural
dialogue because the ideologies and attitudes of researchers, who are often not
Recent Developments and Case Studies in Ethnobotany 93

explicit when the concepts are defined, are implicit in these definitions. Some
researchers believe that ideologies and attitudes are not involved in science.
However, those instances feed our theoretical context of reference, which ori-
ents our thoughts, actions and statements as scientists. It is scientific to do
explicitly what is proposed in those underlying ideas. “To make explicit” is the
nature of science that had to give rise to the explanations for the different
phenomena.
Ethnobotany as a discipline of integration or synthesis. Furthermore, Villa-
mar (1997) states that many researchers insist that the definition of the object
of study in ethnobotany would be the “inter-relationships” between a com-
plex arrangement of subjects and objects including the following: a) the hu-
man populations (subject 1); b) the plants (object 1); c) the utilitarian and/or
intellectual inter-relationships (object 2); d) the researchers (the ethnobota-
nists in the perspective that we are advocating; subject 2); and e) the interac-
tions between the subjects (object 3). Thus, under current traditional defini-
tions of ethnobotany, which are the most commonly employed, the field
would be primarily focused on studying the items represented by element “c.”
Many researchers insist on the term “inter-relationship” instead of “relation-
ship,” and this seems to have strong theoretical and philosophical motiva-
tions9. The element that deals with interactions between subjects (e) suggests
the construction of a modern paradigm that seeks intercultural dialogue, but
that is not necessarily relevant for the definition of the term. The emphasis
placed on interactions10 characterizes another approach to ethnobotany, one
that sees this field as a discipline of integration or synthesis (Hurrell 1987,
1990; see also Portéres 1961, 1966). This approach incorporates an interpreta-
tive aspect, a step beyond the classical descriptions of other approaches, and
places the emphasis not on the main elements of study (people and plants) but
on the relationships between them. Hurrell and others following this ap-
proach lead calls for the integration of ethnobotany with other disciplines
(ecology, chemistry, economics, etc.; see Ford 1978). This effort for synthesis
through links with other disciplines, such as ecology (Hurrell 1987, 1990),
was successful, as Prance (1991) has noted that studies of ethnobotany began
to incorporate more ecological points of view.
The fifth approach: ethnobotany as an ecological discipline. Finally, the idea of
9 The term “inter-relationship” may be controversial on its own. A relationship is always a situation between at
least two terms (or parts of a whole). The prefix “inter” means ‘between’. In this context, to speak about “inter-
relationships” becomes redundant. This redundancy is recognized in Spanish and about the term “inter-rela-
tionships” is not used as frequently. In English, that expression is used more regularly. In Portuguese, the term
is also controversial. Sometimes, the term relates to the idea of reciprocity or to the interdependence of the
parts of a system.
10 The terms “relationship” or “relation” constitutes a prior instance for the term “interaction”. An “interaction”
involves an effective action between the terms of a relationship. In this sense, the relationship precedes the
interaction. In other words, no interaction occurs without a prior relationship of the parts of a whole or of a
system (Hurrell 1990).
94 Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque and Natalia Hanazaki (eds.)

integrating ecological concepts into ethnobotany has been expressed by a


number of authors since the 1940s (Carter 1950; Jones 1941; also see Ford
1978). However, the proposal to make a link between ethnobotany and ecol-
ogy emerged in the 1980s. Rather than adopting ecological methods and tech-
niques, this proposal incorporated ecology into its conceptual framework with
the understanding that ecology is the science of the complex relationships be-
tween living beings (human beings included) and their environments (sensu
lato). In this broadest sense, ecology would be taken as an adequate epistemo-
logical frame of reference (Hurrell 1987, 1990). This proposal implies that the
study of people-plant relationships must be interpreted under the theoretical
background of a “general ecology”11. This would generate benefits in the par-
ticularistic sense of ethnobotany, both in theory and in practice. We also be-
lieve that an ethnobotanical approach that looks at people-plant relationships
from the theoretical context of general ecology can be useful (see Albuquerque
& Hanazaki 2009), such that a “research program” in ethnobotany would re-
fer to the theoretical ecology, although this must not be confused with the
incorporation of traditional ecological methods and techniques.
Our proposal is completely different for the idea of ecological ethnobotany.
This approach is “historically rooted in ethnobotany, growing from method-
ological and theoretical issues in ecology, and ready to flower and fruit with
future applications” (Salick 2000). However, this approach is nevertheless an-
chored in the disciplinary framework of the classic or traditional ecology, and
is even disintegrated in diverse branches according to different interests (auto-
ecology, population ecology, community ecology, and ecosystem ecology,
among other disciples12; see Margalef 1977). Ecological ethnobotany is clearly
centered in one component of the people-plant relationships (the human it-
self), and is restricted to the frame of a classical ecology that tends to separate
the parts of the whole instead of considering the whole as a unit of reference.
In this setting, the human being appears to be disconnected from the system
(the ecosystem) of which he is a part. Our proposal is more closely related to
11 General ecology represents a theoretical corpus where the focus is located in the complexity of relationships and
patterns of relationships between the organisms and their environments, and not in each one of these parts
separately. This is possible, thanks to link theoretical models of other disciplines (communication theory, cy-
bernetic, and the thermodynamics of irreversible processes, among others), that permit the unification of
conceptual fields for the development of particular methodologies. General ecology is not a segment of ecology
but rather a starting point (Morin 1983).
12 Ecological ethnobotany takes advantage of traditional ecological research that is relevant to ethnobotany, such
as the following: the role of the environment in genetic selection in the context of plant domestication (genetic
ecology); physiological variation within and adaptations of plants important to people (autoecology or
physiological ecology); plant life cycles and plant reproduction that benefit man (plant population ecology);
human management of forests and fields (plant community ecology); sustainable management of plant
communities (ecosystem ecology); and so on (Salick 2000). All of these subject matters are of interest to
ethnobotany, but the aggregate of information does not guarantee that the disciplines will be integrated. In
this point of view (called ecological ethnobotany), the emphasis is mainly placed on how people affect the plant
“ecology” under significantly utilitarian criteria.
Recent Developments and Case Studies in Ethnobotany 95

the concept of biocultural ecology where human beings are part of a system
(the ecosystem) that includes the complex relationships of humans with the
biological and cultural aspects of their environment (Hurrell 1990).

Final Remarks

Currently, despite the fact that the two pathways of the term ethnobotany
can be clearly identified, we can observe a pattern of hybridization that needs
to be studied in order to better understand the theoretical strategies of current
ethnobotanical studies. Studying this pattern will also reduce the problems
that can result in a lack of clarity and in miscommunications between re-
searchers. Interestingly, these different “views” or “interpretations” of ethno-
botany do not seem to generate many conflicts among ethnobotanists like
those that occurred in ethnosciences. For example, Alves & Albuquerque
(2005) argue that there has been a process of adjustment and review in ethno-
science by researchers from different scientific traditions dating back to the
earliest critiques by materialist and interpretative anthropologists (see, for ex-
ample, Toledo 1991, 1992).
We do not see the two views of ethnobotany as competing with each
other. We do not believe that one represents a disruption of the other as Kuhn
(1996) describes or as a dispute between research programs as depicted by
Lakatos (2007) (see Villamar 1997 and Alves 2008). Although each of the
earlier modes of thought is valid, it is important that researchers are clear
about the sense in which they are using the term ethnobotany and the re-
search programs (the approaches with its theoretical and epistemological im-
plications) that drive their ethnobotanical studies. This will help to clarify
their theoretical intentions and desired outcomes. Some might argue that it is
impossible to clarify these intentions, and that we should expect ethnobotany
to remain complex. However, we should reflect on the fact that the object of
study —the relationships between people and plants— has an intrinsic com-
plexity, as does any ecological relationship. The complexity is what we should
face in the framework of a theoretical and epistemological context that allows
explanations to come about without falling prey to reductionisms (Morin
1996). We believe that a clearer comprehension of the relationship between
people and plants can emerge from these different sets of possible approaches
of ethnobotany. We state as much with the most basic goal of promoting
communication between ethnobotanists, both universalists and particular-
ists, or supporters of any of the five approaches of ethnobotany considered
here.
96 Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque and Natalia Hanazaki (eds.)

The assertion of more than twenty years ago remains valid: “ethnobotany
as a discipline, according to the criteria of authors that have undertaken its theo-
retical aspects, may be considered in different ways, often overlapping with the
goals of other disciplines, but presenting the analysis of the link, interaction, rela-
tionship and contact between people and plants as common factor, whatever it be
the sense addressed when studying this link” (Hurrell 1987). Now, we should
take a further step in this discipline.

Acknowledgment

We thank the following colleagues who, despite having doubts about or


other perspectives on some of the arguments made in this text, have contrib-
uted to the development and clarity of the ideas here presented. They are: Dr.
Angelo Giuseppe Chaves Alves (Department of Biology, Universidade Fede-
ral Rural de Pernambuco), Dr. Natalia Hanazaki (Department of Ecology
and Zoology, Universidade Federal Rural de Santa Catarina), Dr. Valdeline
Atanazio da Silva (Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco), Dr. Maria
Franco Trindade Medeiros and MSc. Nélson Leal Alencar (Universidade Fe-
deral Rural de Pernambuco), Dr. María Lelia Pochettino (LEBA, Laboratorio
de Etnobotánica y Botánica Aplicada, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Mu-
seo, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, Argentina) and to Dr. Robert Voeks
(California State University). The authors would like to thank the CNPq for
financial support and for productivity grants awarded to U.P. Albuquerque.

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Recent Developments and Case Studies in Ethnobotany 99

Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque is B.S. at Biological Sciences from Universidade Federal


de Pernambuco, M.S. in Plant Biology (Taxonomy and Ethnobotany) from Universi-
dade Federal de Pernambuco and PhD at Plant Biology (Ethnobotany) from Universi-
dade Federal de Pernambuco. He is currently professor of Botany and Ethnobotany at the
Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (Pernambuco, Northeastern Brazil) where he
coordinates the Laboratory of Applied Ethnobotany. He was president of the Brazilian
Society of Ethnobiology and Ethnoecology (2005-2008). He acts in the areas of ecological
anthropology, ethnobotany, biodiversity conservation, applied botany, ethnopharmacol-
ogy and natural products. He has a special interest to the comprehension of the factors
that modulate the relation between people and plants on the interface of ecology and
evolutionary processes. He is deputy editor of the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethno-
medicine. He is also on the editorial boards of Ethnobotany Research and Applications,
The Open Complementary Medicine Journal and Comunicata Scientiae.

Julio Alberto Hurrell is graduated in Ecology and Conservation of Renewable Natural


Resources from Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo, Universidad Nacional de La
Plata, Buenos Aires, República Argentina, and Doctor in Natural Sciences from the same
university. Currently he is a researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical
Investigations (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CONICET),
Argentina, at the Laboratory of Ethnobotany and Applied Botany (Laboratorio de Etno-
botánica y Botánica Aplicada, LEBA), Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo. He acts
in the fields of general ecology, biocultural ecology, phytogeography and floristic inves-
tigations, biodiversity conservation, applied botany and ethnobotany. He has published
diverse papers and books on its specialty. He is particularly interested in theoretical and
methodological aspects of ethnobotany, as well as the epistemological perspectives about
the study of the relationships between people and plants and the ecological and botanical
knowledge at traditional and non traditional cultural contexts.

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