Megan Vaughan (UCL)
- Series F: Indigenous Knowledge and Religion
- GR 276
- Start time:
- 12 September, 2008 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
- Session slots:
Author:William Beinart (Oxford University)
Paper long abstract:
My paper grows out of a series of research projects on the relationship between environmental knowledge and veterinary medicine in South Africa. Previous research has focused on the emergence of scientific knowledge and practices. This paper explores knowledge about, and use of, environmental resources by African people in Mpondoland - an African-occupied rural area of South Africa. In particular it focuses on the management of livestock. Livestock are still culturally and economically important in this area, which is amongst the poorest in South Africa. Livestock transactions are the largest segment of the rural informal economy. But there is a crisis with respect to animal health. State veterinary services have largely been withdrawn. Livestock owners are left to cope with diseases themselves. My paper analyses how they do this and emphasizes the importance of environmental resources, and knowledge. It explores systems of transhumance and the nature of herbal remedies. It develops an analysis of hybrid knowledge that draws both on older systems of African medicine, and ideas introduced in the colonial era.
My argument is that even in a very traditionalist part of South Africa, a version of bio-medical explanations are offered for some key animals diseases, but that these sit alongside other forms of explanation and treatment which rely more heavily on knowledge of grazing and plants. There are also important reasons for livestock owners to hold onto their old patterns of transhumance. Knowledge about, and acceptance of, herbal remedies is, however, uneven. Some feel that without the power and resources of the state, they will not control the worst of diseases, notably tickborne diseases. For them, however, the actions of the state are illegible. Knowledge about diseases is imperfect. A number of different individual strategies are pursued. I will explore the idea of fragmented knowledge, as much as hybrid environmental knowledge, in a context of rapid social change. I will also suggest that local knowledge does not appear sufficient to manage what many livestock owners perceive to be a crisis in management.
Author:Ruth Adeka (National Museums of Kenya)
Paper long abstract:
Kenya has a high diversity of leafy vegetables with 200 species used traditionally. Most of these are neglected in urban areas and mainly consumed in specific rural localities where they are picked from the wild mainly when cultivated species are out of season. A few are however well-known vegetables that are fully cultivated or semi cultivated. Over the last half century, consumption of these vegetables particularly in urban areas had been on the decline mainly due to their being associated with the poor and less modernized people. Most urban dwellers abandoned eating their traditional vegetables in favour of exotic vegetables like kale and white cabbage.
A multi-stakeholder programme initiated in 1996 to promote research and use of African Leafy Vegetables (ALVs) is now bearing fruit. Promotion using a variety of techniques in the years 2001-2005 was carried out simultaneously with training of farmers and development of value chains. An on-going market survey of urban markets indicates that there has been successful introduction of about 12 species to the formal markets. Sunhemp, Ethiopian kale, African nightshades, spider-plant, Jew’s mallow among others have now become regular vegetables in formal markets like supermarkets. Their appearance in the formal markets has given them higher status, leading to an upsurge in demand and their increase in the informal market.
This paper explores some of the ingredients necessary for successful promotion of neglected but nutritious species using the success story of promotion of indigenous vegetables in Kenya as an example.
Author:Nkiruka Ahiauzu (Aberystwyth University)
Paper long abstract:
A significant aspect of understanding the culture of a people is understanding how they engage with the notion of law and certain legal concepts. The way a society characterises the role of law and what the functions of legal administration should be tell us more about their cultural worldview than more overt forms of cultural expression. The paper will seek to outline certain areas that philosophical endeavour in the African context can be useful in offering tools for conceptual analysis with the aim of attaining a better understanding of certain problems that are to a large extent specific to the African legal terrain, examples of which arise mainly from the duality of normative spheres effected by laws received as a result of colonisation which exist side by side with more indigenous forms of jurisprudence, sometimes bringing about conflicts and uneasy co-existence. Instances of this can be found in the somewhat derogatory way that what is referred to as ‘customary’ law (which is a term used by the more ‘formal’ though largely colonially received legal system to characterise certain ‘recognised’ aspects of indigenous jurisprudence) is treated in many modern African societies. An example of the problematic co-existence of the two systems is where persons wishing to be married face two forms of required recognition, namely formal and indigenous where in order to be recognised by the state as married they have to comply with formal laws of marriage (in a court or church) but still have to comply with the indigenous customs of marriage in order to be recognised by their cultures as married – in effect marrying twice. Philosophical investigation uncovers what is really at issue at the foundation of these problems, namely the problem of identity; more specifically, reconstructing identity after colonisation and the possible role of law in this achieving this.