Economic Botany

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 321–334 | Cite as

Antes and Hoy DÍa: Plant knowledge and categorization as adaptations to life in Panama in the Twenty-First Century

  • Nina K. MÜller-SchwarzeEmail author


Ethnobotanical studies often assume plant knowledge is shared by all members of an arbitrarily bounded human group. By describing the uses and local categorization of plants in one village in rural Panama in a heteroglossic approach, the different knowledges within a village are presented in one article. Plants used in the daily work of women and men, and the work of village spe-cialists are described. Villagers negotiate changing realities by adapting plant use and knowl-edge; this is reflected in local categorization of plant names into antes and hoy dia. Unlike the established ethnobotanical assumption that bounded units of plant knowledge are dying, the younger generations of villagers, who work both within and outside the village, know more plants useful to their changing economic opportunities. Subsistence agriculturalists possess the adaptive plant knowledge skills to be stewards of the environment.

Key words

Panama Coclé peasants ethnobotany heteroglossia memory 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Alcorn, J. 1990. Indigenous agroforestry strategies meeting farmers' needs. Pages 141–148 in A. Anderson, ed., Alternatives to deforestation: Steps toward sustainable use of the amazon rain forest. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  2. ANAM and Cuerpo de Paz. 1982. Desarrollo Forestal de Panamá: Caracteristicas y Usos de 19 Especies con Valor Commercial en Panamá. Panama City.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, E. 1996. Ecologies of the heart: Emotion, belief and the environment. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Balée, W. 2000. Antiquity of traditional ethnobiological knowledge in amazonia: The Tupí-Guaraní family and time. Ethnohistory 47(2):399–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. — 1994. Footprints of the forest. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  6. Barth, F. 1987. Cosmologies in the making: A generative view approach to cultural variation in inner New Guinea. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.Google Scholar
  7. Bartlett, F. C. 1932. Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (England) and Melbourne (Australia).Google Scholar
  8. Berlin, B., D.E. Breedlove, P.H. Raven. 1974. Principles of Tzeltzal plant classification. Academic Press, New York and London.Google Scholar
  9. Camargo, M. 1984. La Migración Azuereña en el Regimiento de Tambo, Distrito de Penonomé. Pages 119–131 in S. Heckadon-Moreno and A. McKay, A., eds., Colonización y Destrucción de Bosques en Panama. Asociación Paname#x00F1;a de Antropolog#x00Ed;a, Panama City, Republic of Panama.Google Scholar
  10. Case, R., G. Pauli, and D. Doel Sojarto. 2005. Factors in maintaining indigenous knowledge among ethnic communities of Manus Island. Economic Botany 59(4):356–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clifford, J. 1988. The predicament of culture: Twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachuetts.Google Scholar
  12. Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff. 1992. Ethnography and the historical imagination. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.Google Scholar
  13. Condit, R., N. Pitman, and G. Edgert. 2002. Betadiversity in tropical forest trees. Science 295:666–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conklin, H. 1961. The study of shifting agriculture. Current Anthropology 2:27–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dalle, S. and C. Potvin. 2004. Conservation of useful plants: An evaluation of local priorities from two indigenous communities in eastern Panama. Economic Botany 58(l):38–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Leon, P.M. 1904. On the Panama hat. Page 494 in O. Mason, American Indian Basketry. Republished in 1988 by Dover Publications, New York.Google Scholar
  17. Denevan, W. 2001. Cultivated landscapes of native amazonia and the Andes: Triumph over the soil. Oxford University Press, Oxford (England) and New York.Google Scholar
  18. Etkin, N. 2002. Local knowledge of biotic diversity and its conservation in rural Hausaland, northern Nigeria. Economic Botany 56(l):73–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Freilich, M. 1991. Smart rules and proper rules: A journey through deviance. Pages 27–50 in M. Freilich, D. Raybeck, and J. Savishinsky, J., eds., Deviance: Anthropological perspectives. Bergin and GarveyNew York.Google Scholar
  20. Geertz, C. 1973. The interpretation of cultures. Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Gudeman, S. 1976. Relationships, residence and the individual: A rural Panamanian community. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.Google Scholar
  22. Halbwachs, M. 1950. La Mémoire Collective. Presses Universitaire de France, Paris.Google Scholar
  23. Hays, T. 1974. Mauna: Explorations in Ndumba Ethnobotany. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  24. Heckadon-Moreno, S. 1983. Cuando Se Acaban Los Montes: Los Campesinos Sante#x00F1;os y la Colonizaci#x00F3;n de Tonos#x00ED;. Panam#x00E1;: Editorial Universitaria Panam#x00E1; and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.Google Scholar
  25. Heider, K. G. 2004. Seeing anthropology: Cultural anthropology through film. Pearson Education, Boston.Google Scholar
  26. Hunn, E. 1982. The utilitarian in folk biological classification. American Anthropologist 84:830–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kane, S. 1995. Emberá medicinal plant use. Jahrbuch für Ethnomedizin und Bewusstseinsforschung 4:185–206.Google Scholar
  28. — 1994. The phantom gringo boat: Shamanic discourse and development in Panama. The Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
  29. Kirke, C. 1980. Prehistoric agriculture in the Belize River valley. World Archaeology 11(3):281–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lévi-Strauss, C. 1966 [1962]. The savage mind. Weidenfield and Nicholson, London.Google Scholar
  31. Linares, O. 1979. What is lower central American archaeology? Annual Review of Anthropology 8:21–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Little, S. 2003. Emberá women’s cooperative: Basket art helping resist the impacts of war. Women and Environments Magazine 58/59:50.Google Scholar
  33. Lothrop, S. 1946. The archaeology of Panama. Pages 140–155 in J. Steward, ed., The handbook of South American Indians, Volume 4. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 143. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  34. Müller-Schwarze, N. 2003. Knowing when to clear the fields: Manacus vitellinus and swidden farming in northern Codé province, Panamá. Human Mosaic 34(l-2):25–30.Google Scholar
  35. Peters, C. M. 2000. Precolumbian silviculture and indigenous management of neotropical forests. Pages 203–223 in David Lentz, ed., Imperfect balance: Landscape transformations in the PreColumbian Americas. Columbia University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  36. — 1983. Observations on Maya subsistence and the ecology of a tropical tree. American Antiquity 48(3):610–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rivet, P. 1991. Industria del Sombrero en Ecuador y Panamá. Revista de Antropología. 11:21–41.Google Scholar
  38. Schemo, D.J. 1999. The last tribal battle. The New York Times Magazine (31 October): pp. 70-77.Google Scholar
  39. Schultze, R.E. and R. Raffauf. 2004. Vine of the soul: Medicine men, their plants and rituals in the Colombian amazon. Synergetic Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.Google Scholar
  40. Simsek, I., F. Aytekin, E. Yesilada, and S. Yildirimli. 2004. An ethnobotanical survey of the Beypazari, Ayas and Güdül district towns of Ankara province (Turkey). Economic Botany 58(4):705–720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ventocillo, J., H. Herrera, and V. Núñez, with the editorial assistance of H. Roeder and translation by E. King. 1995. Plants and animals in the life of the kuna. University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.Google Scholar
  42. Vansina, J. 1965. Oral tradition: A study in historical methodology. Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago.Google Scholar
  43. Weeden Gamboa, A. 2000. Censos Nacionales X de Población, VI de Vivienda, Cifras Preliminares, Junio 2000. República de Panama: Contraloría General de la República.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyTulane UniversityNew Orleans

Personalised recommendations