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Ethno-Ornithology: Birds and Indigenous People, Culture and Society

Edited By: Sonia Tidemann and Andrew Gosler

346 pages, Col plates, figs, tabs


Hardback | Mar 2010 | #183176 | ISBN-13: 9781844077830
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NHBS Price: £69.99 $92/€79 approx
Paperback | Mar 2011 | #190585 | ISBN-13: 9781849713382
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About this book

An African proverb states that when a knowledgeable old person dies, a whole library disappears. In that light, this book presents knowledge that is new or has not been readily available until now because it has not previously been captured or reported by indigenous people. Indigenous knowledge that embraces ornithology takes in whole social dimensions that are inter-linked with environmental ethos, conservation and management for sustainability. In contrast, western approaches have tended to reduce knowledge to elemental and material references.

This book also looks at the significance of indigenous knowledge of birds and their cultural significance, and how these can assist in framing research methods of western scientists working in related areas. As well as its knowledge base, this book provides practical advice for professionals in conservation and anthropology by demonstrating the relationship between mutual respect, local participation and the building of partnerships for the resolution of joint problems. It identifies techniques that can be transferred to different regions, environments and collections, as well as practices suitable for investigation, adaptation and improvement of knowledge exchange and collection in ornithology.

'Timely and critical.' Bird Life 'The twenty essays in this fascinating book place people's traditional understanding of birds centre stage ... timely and critical.' Bird Life 'A novel, fascinating and wide ranging account of the way birds are perceived by different cultures' Tim Birkhead, ornithologist and author of The Wisdom of Birds 'The last half century has seen a significant growth in our understanding of how humans perceive the world of birds, and this knowledge has shaped the development of ethnobiology ... Given this prominence, it is perhaps surprising that we have had to wait so long for a review of the subject and for such a powerful statement of its scope and significance. What is remarkable about this benchmark volume is the size and diversity of the contributions. There can be little doubt that with its publication ethno-ornithology has arrived as an identifiable cross-disciplinary specialism, with much to say that is relevant not only to the humane sciences, but to conservation and the emerging consensus on biocultural diversity.' Roy Ellen, Professor of Anthropology and Human Ecology and Director of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity, University of Kent, UK 'A fascinating series of essays exploring the diverse links that exist between birds and people; studies that remind us how all human societies are deeply indebted to birds - for language, song, food, inspiration, commerce - a biocultural certainty that cries out for a stronger role in contemporary nature conservation.' John Fanshawe, Senior Strategy Adviser, BirdLife International 'it is critical and timely' John Fanshawe, World Birdwatch 'As well as its knowledge base, this book provides practical advice for professionals in conservation and anthropology by demonstrating the relationship between mutual respect, local participation and the building of partnerships for the resolution of joint problems.' Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report 'Tidemann and Gosler are to be congratulated on opening the topic, even launching the discipline, with this collection. They have 'reframed' ornithology as a shared enterprise; they have given indigenous voices some space; they have pushed conservation of birds deeper into the murky area of cross-cultural dialogue and post-colonial politics; they have challenged hegemony, in ornithology, of Western rational discourse; they have even let the birds speak.' Moy Hitchen, Emu- Austral Ornithology 'This is a scholarly work, and isn't light reading, but for anyone with a deep interest in the role that birds have, and do, play in cultures across the world, such as the Maya, Maori, Aboriginals, Polynesians and many many more.' Wildlife


Part I: Introduction 1. Indigenous Knowledges, Birds that have 'Spoken' and Science 2. Ethno-Ornithology and Conservation 3. The Broader Significance of Ethno-Ornithology Part II: Birds: Hunting and Products 4. The Maori and the Huia 5. Santa Cruz Red Feather Currency And The Scarlet Honeyeater 6. Entrapment Of Wetland Birds: Local Customs And Methods Of Hunting In Central Java 7. Wildlife Hunting and Bird Trade in Northern Papua (Irian Jaya), Indonesia Part III: Birds and Knowledge 8. Transmutation of Human Knowledge about Birds in 16th Century Honduras 9. Sound, Sight, Stories and Science: Avoiding Pitfalls in Ethno-Ornithological Research, with Examples from Kenya 10. What the Locals Know: Comparing Traditional and Scientific Knowledge of Megapodes in Melanesia Part IV: Birds: Story and Language 11. The Birds and Nature in the Stepwells of Gujarat, Western India 12. Aboriginal Stories: The Riches and Colour of Australian Birds 13. Tlingit Birds, an annotated list with a statistical comparative analysis 14. Raven=Heron in Mayan-Language Prehistory: An Ethno-Ornithological/Linguistic Study 15. What's in a Bird Name: Relationships among Ethno-Ornithological Terms in Nage and other Malayo-Polynesian Languages Part V: Birds and Conservation 16. An Alternate Reality: Maori Spiritual Guardianship of New Zealand's Native Birds 17. Everyone Loves Birds: Using Indigenous Knowledge of Birds to Facilitate Conservation in New Guinea 18. Birds, People and Conservation in Kenya 19. Bird Messengers for all Seasons: Landscapes of Knowledge among the BriBri of Costa Rica 20. The Bull of the Bog: Bittern Conservation Practice in a Western Bio-cultural Setting 21. Towards an Indonesian bird conservation ethos: reflections from a study of bird-keeping in the cites of Java and Bali

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Sonia Tidemann was Adjunct Professor of Natural and Cultural Resource Management at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Australia for 14 years. Andrew Gosler is Director of the Institute of Human Sciences, Oxford University, UK, where he lectures in Biological Conservation, and University Research Lecturer in the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Oxford. He formerly edited the international ornithological journal Ibis of the British Ornithologists' Union.

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