Nuaulu ethnobotanical cognition and knowledge

Roy Ellen in Nuaulu

An appraisal of how ethnobotanical classification works, addressing some of the problems associated with the received models

Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship, 2018-2020

Emeritus Professor Roy Ellen will complete a large monograph on the subject of ethnobotanical cognition, knowledge and practice among the Nuaulu of Seram, eastern Indonesia. This work – the culmination of Professor Ellen’s last 50 years of academic research – also endeavours to re-appraise how ethnobotanical classification works, addressing some of the problems associated with the received models by emphasising much more intra-cultural variation, the difficulties of simple claims for universality versus relativity, of cultural models versus individual contextual schemata, and of the two-dimensional taxonomic model.

Relevant Publications:

Ellen, R. (2017). Contingency and adaptation over five decades in Nuaulu forest-based plant knowledge. In P. Sillitoe (Ed.), Indigenous knowledge: enhancing its contribution to natural resource management (pp. 28-39). Wallingford, Oxfordshire: CAB International.

Ellen, R. (2017). Categorizing natural objects: some issues arising from recent work in cognitive anthropology and ethnobiological classification. In T. Pommerening & Bisang, W. (Eds.), Classification from antiquity to modern times : sources, methods, and theories from an interdisciplinary perspective (pp. 263-277). Berlin: De Gruyter.

Ellen, R. (2017). Rethinking the relationship between studies of ethnobiological knowledge and the evolution of human cultural cognition. In C. Power, Finnegan, M., & Callan, H. (Eds.), Human origins: contributions from social anthropology (Vol. 30, pp. 59-83). Oxford, New York: Berghahn.

Ellen, R. (2011). ‘Indigenous knowledge’ and the understanding of cultural cognition: the contribution of studies of environmental knowledge systems. In D. B. Kronenfeld, Bennardo, G., De Munck, V. C., & Fischer, M. D. (Eds.), A companion to cognitive anthropology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ellen, R. (2009). Why aren’t the Nuaulu like the Matsigenka? Knowledge and categorization of forest diversity on Seram, eastern Indonesia. In L. M. Johnson & Hunn, E. S. (Eds.), Landscape ethnoecology: concepts of biotic and physical space (pp. 116-140). New York, Oxford: Berghahn.

Ellen, R. (2008). Ethnomycology among the Nuaulu of the Moluccas: Putting Berlin’s “General Principles” of Ethnobiological classification to the test. Economic Botany, 62(3), pp.483-496.

Ellen, R.F., (2006). The categorical impulse: essays in the anthropology of classifying behaviour. Berghahn books.

Ellen, R., (2006). The cultural relations of classification: an analysis of Nuaulu animal categories from central Seram (Vol. 91). Cambridge University Press.

Ellen, R.F. and Reason, D., (1979). Classifications in their Social Context.