Accepted Paper:

Mushrooms, history and indigenous knowledge in Greek Macedonia  


Daniel Knight (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

Mushroom picking in the Greek Macedonian village of Kalloni is a highly ritualised practice that incorporates a plethora of social connotations. A usually dormant social space, the village comes alive as the mushroom season activates social networks of embodied history and knowledge. Mushroom picking accommodates the intergenerational transmission of indigenous knowledge that highlights a rich arena of inter-species interaction.

Paper long abstract:

Each autumn the village of Kalloni in Greek Macedonia is woken from its usual seasonal slumber by groups of mushroom hunters. Since the former inhabitants migrated to surrounding towns during the 1940s and 1950s for social and economic reasons, Kalloni has gradually become deserted outside of the summer months. The mushroom picking season instigates particular social networks of embodied knowledge and history.

History is relived through mushroom picking and embodied knowledge transmitted. Children have never been allowed to participate in the activity, but nevertheless successive generations continue with what has become a highly ritualised practice. Knowledge of the landscape and edible species is transferred on these excursions, partially de-shrouding the mystification of inside knowledge. The practice has become culturally proximate; an activity that links dispersed actors to their ancestral village. Mushroom picking is a practice that enlivens otherwise dormant social spaces and activates networks of knowledge and embodied history. Thus mushrooms not only help produce a dynamic social arena of discernment, but also transform the social space.

Panel P22
Knowing plants