Accepted paper:

Forest degradation, Traditional Knowledge and Health: A Study among the Santal Tribes in West Bengal, India


Sovan Chakraborty (Calcutta University)

Paper short abstract:

Tribals are the children of the forest. Their traditional knowledge especially in the areas of health is centered on their ecological niche. Due to forest degradation and deforestation traditional knowledge especially in the areas of health, disease and treatment are disappear day by day. For the survival of this knowledge it is better to understand the situation and chalk out a proper programme.

Paper long abstract:

A holistic perspective on human knowledge would help us to understand the implications of traditional knowledge especially in the areas of health, disease and treatment. The tribals, particularly forest dwellers, depend on forest for their existence. Forest plays an essential part in their social, cultural, economical and health structure. They collect food from the forest, use the timber to construct their houses, making different types of implements, collect fuel wood for cooking and different other objects from the forests required by them for a variety of purposes. But presently forest is used commercially and due to deforestation it is degraded day by day. So, it is hard to collect medicinal plants and other food items. Tribal world of belief and practices has been constructed and surrounded by their parochial perception and action of natural and supernatural entity. They find themselves closely knit with the web of these two entities in every sphere of life. Perception about health and health seeking behaviour of the tribal people obviously is intertwined with the interaction of these two entities. The traditional healers act as the medium between man, nature and supernatural entity and provide spiritual security to the tribal people. The present paper focuses on the study of forest degradation, traditional knowledge and health among the Santal tribes of Puruliya district in West Bengal, India.

panel PE22
Forest degradation and human health: opportunities and challenges of traditional wisdom and knowledge (IUAES Commission on Human Rights)