Speaker to discuss traditional ecological knowledge

April 18, 2011

Anthropologist James Sheehy will present “Worldview, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Subsistence among Foraging and Agricultural Societies” at noon on April 27, in 203 Paterno Library. This presentation is part of a series of seminars on indigenous knowledge sponsored by the University Libraries and the Interinstitutional Consortium on Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK) and is free and open to the public. The presentation can also be viewed live online at http://breeze.psu.edu/icik.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is a subset of indigenous knowledge and emphasizes the accumulation of a body of knowledge, practice and belief resulting from adaptive processes between humans, other organisms and the environment. This knowledge is culturally transmitted from generation to generation through writing, myth, songs, stories, artistic expression and other means of socialization. Ecological knowledge in traditional societies begins at the local level with the individual’s daily observations and experiences of the local environment and the flora and fauna it contains. A second analytical level resides in the specific management practices that are implemented by people to utilize the local knowledge. Managing resources, however, requires suitable social institutions with defined sets of rules, norms and codes of behavioral relationships. All of the above levels are embedded within a particular worldview that influences how one interprets one’s position in the universe.

This presentation briefly examines these layered relationships in TEK among traditional Aboriginal foraging societies of Australia, intense rice agricultural societies centered in Bali, Indonesia, and traditional subsistence corn farmers in isolated areas of rural Mexico. In each case, the particular integrated suite of knowledge, practice and belief can be traced back into varying depths of antiquity.

Sheehy has worked in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest and teaches a variety of courses in anthropology, including prehistory, biological anthropology, hunter-gatherers and cultural ecology, at Penn State Altoona and Juniata College.

Past seminars from this series can be accessed at http://www.libraries.psu.edu/psul/socialsciences/icik2.html. For questions about the physical access provided or to make arrangements for special accommodations, contact Social Sciences Library Head Helen Sheehy at 814-863-1347 or hms2@psu.edu.

  • IMAGE: James Sheehy
Last Updated January 09, 2015