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Plants, Health and Healing: On the Interface of Ethnobotany and Medical Anthropology

Edited By: Elisabeth Hsu and Stephen Harris

316 pages, Figs, tabs

Berghahn Books Ltd

Hardback | Oct 2010 | #187692 | ISBN-13: 9781845450601
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £56.00 $73/€64 approx

About this book

Plants have cultural histories, and their culturally known applications change through time and across contexts. The impact of individual plant species on human cultures has been profound, whether it is the coca and quinine from South America or tea and coffee from the Old World.

This pattern is seen in all types of uses that humans make of plants, from trees used for construction, through species used for perfume through to food plants. However, it is medicinal plants that have attracted considerable attention recently, whether as a justification of plant conservation efforts or through the perception that direct use of medicinal plants may offer something that is not delivered by orthodox medicine.

The central aims of this book are to demonstrate that plant knowledge is not paradigmatic positive knowledge but situational and arises in relationships, and to show that modern medicinal plant discovery can be viewed as the epitome of a long history of borrowing, stealing and exchanging plants.


List of Illustrations List of Tables List of Contributors Introduction Elisabeth Hsu History Editorial introduction Stephen Harris Chapter 1. Non-native plants and their medicinal uses Stephen Harris Chapter 2. Qinghao .. (Herba Artemisiae annuae) in the Chinese materia medica Elisabeth Hsu (in consultation with Frederic Obringer) Anthropology Editorial introduction Stephen Harris Chapter 3. Shamanic plants and gender in the Peruvian Upper Amazon Francoise Barbira Freedman Chapter 4. Persons, plants and relations: treating childhood illness in a western Kenyan village P. Wenzel Geissler and Ruth J. Prince Plant Portraits Editorial introduction Stephen Harris Chapter 5. East goes West. Ginkgo biloba and Dementia Sir John Grimley Evans Chapter 6. Medicinal, stimulant and ritual plant use: an ethnobotany of caffeine-containing plants Caroline S. Weckerle, Verena Timbul and Philip Blumenshine Index

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Elisabeth Hsu is University Lecturer in Medical Anthropology at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. Stephen Harris was awarded a Ph.D. in plant systematics from the University of St. Andrews in 1990. He has been the Druce Curator of Oxford University Herbaria since 1995.

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