Gardens in Vanuatu, an archipelago in the SW Pacific, materialize the multiple relationships between land, humans, and the more-than-human world that facilitate self-reliance, and wellbeing. This paper analyzes a collaborative project (2016-18) undertaken on the Island of Tanna in Vanuatu. A project for and with youth and their communities, it aimed to train young people to do basic research on customary food gardens and to document Indigenous customary knowledge, practices, and customary stories about food and gardens. The project started after a catastrophic cyclone destroyed gardens and infrastructure, rendering the self-sufficient islanders dependent on food aid at a time of rising rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). There is also concern about the declining interest in traditional knowledge among youth. With about 60% of the population under 30 years of age, this paper argues that youth are critical actors in ensuring the continuity of customary knowledge and practices that are essential for food sovereignty, the maintenance of social relations and wellbeing, all of which are embedded in relational ecologies of care.
The University of Saskatchewan Department of Archaeology & Anthropology became the first academic Department in Canada to publicly offer a Statement on Reconciliation. Most archaeologists recognize our colonial past and agree we need to expand our focus to incorporate better the thoughts, actions, and desires of the descendant communities of those who produced the material and nonmaterial remains we study. As a subdiscipline of archaeology, palaeoethnobotany with its emphasis on traditional plant use is well-positioned to engage fully with descendant communities. The Northern Plains would seem an ideal candidate for such research, given the rarity of existing palaeoethnobotanical research and the apparent absence of engaged research on medicinal plants. Current literature on the Northern Plains does include various ethnobotanical accounts, including discussion of plants with medicinal purposes. Though rare, there are also a few palaeoethnobotanical studies, which typically incorporate ethnobotanical data to aid interpretations. But what is lacking are clear attempts to bridge these sources of information; to conduct studies specifically designed through the coordinated efforts of Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and Healers with palaeoethnobotanists. We discuss how community-engaged scholarship of medicinal plants research on the Northern Plains may benefit both palaeoethnobotany and descendant communities.
The anthropological study of health has always been an integral part of the discipline. With the development of cultural anthropology and physical anthropology (specifically, bioarchaeology) in the nineteenth century came different theories and methodologies concerning the study and definition of communities. Still today, cultural anthropology and bioarchaeology share the same broad goals of exploring the evolving relationships between experiences of health and the community, culture, and environment (being natural, domestic, political, and social). That cultural anthropologists study extant cultures and bioarchaeologists do not has necessitated the evolution of different methodological practices. Here, I explore some of the differences between these two sub-disciplines: their differing notions of community, how they engage with communities, and the relevance of their work to the communities they study. I contextualize this analysis with a short discussion of the sub-disciplines’ co-evolution and ground it with examples from my research with middle Holocene Siberian, Russian Federation, and Anglo-Saxon to Post-Industrial British communities.
This article explores how Indigenous Knowledge and medical anthropology can co-construct community health knowledge through boundary work and the use of boundary objects. It will highlight how community-based participatory research (CBPR) in medical anthropology can help co-develop methods and strategies with Indigenous research partners to assess the human health impact of the First Nations water crisis. We draw on a case study of our community-based approach to health research with Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation community stakeholders and McMaster University researchers. We highlight how framing a co-constructed health survey as a boundary object can create dialogical space for Indigenous and western academic pedagogies and priorities. We also explore how this CBPR anthropology approach, informed by Indigenous Knowledge, allows for deeper foundations of culturally centered health to guide our work in identifying current and future community health needs concerning these ongoing water contamination and access issues. Through three health survey versions, priorities and research questions shifted and expanded to suit growing community health priorities. This led to collaborative action to communicate specific messages around water contamination and access across governance, community, and institutional boundaries. We demonstrate how our co-constructed approach and boundary work allows for the respectful and reciprocal development of these long-term research partnerships and works in solidarity with the Two-Row Wampum (Kaswentha) treaty established by the Haudenosaunee Nation and European settler nations.
There continues to be significant debate about what constitutes an “ethnographic film.” Contemporary standards for production require large budgets and sophisticated film crews, and as a result marginalizes those films produced at the local level designed to meet local needs. This article documents the process of creating a participatory ethnographic film at the behest of a group of Q’eqchi’ Maya medical practitioners in Belize. From conception through to the approval of the final cut and distribution, the project was directed by the practitioners and executed on a shoestring budget and ‘in kind’ contributions. I argue that the genre of ethnographic film must accommodate local level aesthetic sensibilities about what constitutes a “good” representation of cultural issues, and consider the nature of the intended audience, thereby allowing space for a collaborative filmmaking process attendant to the world of the participants rather than that of international film festivals.
While contemporary urban life in many ways seems increasingly disconnected from nature, the growing practice of urban agriculture – growing food in and around cities – is increasingly pointed to as a source of well-being through a connection to the land. In addition to providing access to healthy food and providing a means for increased physical activity, urban agriculture boasts a number of subjective positive experiences for participants. Reporting from an intensive, community-based ethnographic research project in Winnipeg, Manitoba, students and course organizers of the University of Manitoba’s “Applied Visual Methods in Community-Based Sociology” course explored urban agriculture as a source of well-being through the lens of disconnection and reconnection. During the summer course, eight students from different disciplinary backgrounds conducted participatory observation and interviews in five community garden sites. The results of the research were developed in a group paper and presented in a short video. This report from the field shares the methodology of short-term ethnographic video as a means of both engaged scholarship through the principle of reciprocity and as a vehicle for exploring urban agriculture (and other food movement activities) as a pathway to well-being by reconnecting to land, to food and to community.
The Inuit Cancer Project aims to help Inuit better understand cancer and improve communication between Inuit with cancer and non-Inuit healthcare providers and support services. The project has created resources that are culturally relevant, appropriate, and accessible to Inuit patients and the healthcare providers working with them. Not only are we helping to educate and empower Inuit patients and their families, but also better educating healthcare providers around the importance of cultural knowledge in cancer care. Our ultimate goal is to improve health outcomes by increasing awareness and understanding of cancer among Inuit communities. This project is a collaboration between Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society. It highlights how partnerships with organizations, both big and small, and connected with the community, can have a real impact.