Dr Anna Piestrzynska successfully defended her doctoral thesis on 6th February 2020. Her thesis was titled Language shift and TEK (Traditional Environmental Knowledge), related to medicinal plant knowledge, in Tilantongo, the Mixteca, Mexico, which combined a sophisticated linguistic analysis of language change accompanying bilingualism in MIxtec, with a medical ethnobotanical study of medicinal plant knowledge and use. Her primary research question was, What happens to knowledge of medicinal plants (and related ethnomedical concepts) when language shift takes place in an indigenous community?
Anna completed the Ethnobotany MSc at Kent in 2011, and won that year’s Annual Ethnobotany Prize for her outstanding achievements in coursework and her dissertation research on The dynamics, role and importance of the hot-cold classification system in relation to medicinal plant use and related concepts among four distinct peoples in Mexico.
She has an undergraduate degree in Languages and Cultures of Indigenous America from Leiden University, The Netherlands, and an MPhil degree in Latin American and Amerindian studies also from Leiden. She as acquired anthropological, linguistic and ethnobotanical research skills along the way and is fleunt in Spanish and Mixtec (Tilantongo-Diuxi) languages.