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Economic Botany

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 183–191 | Cite as

Losing knowledge about plant use in the sierra de manantlan biosphere reserve, Mexico

  • Bruce F. Benz
  • Judith Cevallos E.
  • Francisco Santana M.
  • Jesus Rosales A.
  • S. Graf M.
Article

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to document relationships between knowledge of plant use and indicators of modernization in Mexico. The model we are testing envisions increasing loss of plant use knowledge with increasing modernization indicated by loss of indigenous language and acquisition of nontraditional community services such as literacy and quality of housing. As predicted, we demonstrate that empirical knowledge about plant use is both more diverse and more evenly shared by people speaking an indigenous language—the Huastec—than by mestizo and Spanish-speaking indigenous populations in the Sierra de Manantlan. Our analyses also indicate that the adoption of modern community services by eight rural communities in the Sierra de Manantlan of western Mexico has had notable effects eroding traditional knowledge about useful plants in some but not all communities. From this we suggest that even though traditional knowledge about plants probably suffered a decline that accompanied loss of the indigenous language in Manantlan, traditional knowledge may be able to survive the modernization process today where such knowledge has an important role in subsistence.

Key Words

Ethnobotany erosion of cultural knowledge Sierra de Manantlan Mexico socioeconomic marginality 

Perdida Del Conocimiento Acerca Del Uso De La Plantas En La Reserva De La Biosfera Sierra De Manantlan, Mexico

Résumé

El propósito de este trabajo es documentor las relaciones entre el conocimiento del uso de las plantas y los indicadores de modernizatión en México. Nuestro modelo comprueba que el conocimiento sobre el uso de las plantas se estó perdiendo debido al aumento de la modernizatión, por la pérdida del lenguaje índigena y la adquisición de servicios comunitarios no tradicionales tales como educatión y calidad de vivienda. Como se predijo, nosotros demonstramos que el conocimiento empírico sobre el uso de plantas es más diverso y más compartido en la población indígena que aún conserva su propio lenguajelos Huastecos—que en la población mestizo e indígena que habla españsol en la Sierra de Manantlán. Nuestros análisis también indican que la adoption de servicios comunitarios modernos en ocho localidades rurales de la sierra de Manantlán en el occidente de México han tenido notables efectos erosionando el conocimiento traditional sobre el uso de las plantas en algunas de estas comunidades. Por lo tanto, nosotros sugerimos que aunque el conocimiento traditional sobre el uso de las plantas probablemente está sufriendo una disminución la cual es acompañada con la pérdida del lenguaje indígena en la Sierra de Manantlán, el conocimiento traditional puede ser capaz de sobrevivir al proceso de modernizatión actual donde tal conocimiento juega un importante papel en la subsistencia.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce F. Benz
    • 1
  • Judith Cevallos E.
    • 2
  • Francisco Santana M.
    • 2
  • Jesus Rosales A.
    • 3
  • S. Graf M.
    • 3
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentTexas Wesleyan UniversityFort Worth
  2. 2.Instituto Manantlán de Ecología y Conservacion de la Biodiversidad Universidad de GuadalajaraAutlánMexico
  3. 3.Directión Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra de ManantlánInstituto National de Ecología Secretario de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y PescaAutlán

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