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The Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine Debates Series

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The Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine presents a new debate series focused on some of the big questions that ethnobiology and ethnomedicine are facing today to frame their role in supporting global sustainable development.

We invited opinion leaders to make the case either “For” or “Against” contentious topics in ethnobiology, environmental studies, and medical and food anthropology. The series is also open to further unsolicited articles from researchers and practitioners worldwide who wish to contribute to the debate.

This debate series aims to curate thought-provoking contributions for all readers. Furthermore, it aims to achieve the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine’s mission – supported for nearly 20 years now – to bring ethnobiology and ethnomedicine to the forefront of research and claim their pivotal role in fostering the ecological transition and a more sustainable world.

This collection supports and amplifies research related to SDG 15.

Guest Editor: Andrea Pieroni, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy

Submission Status: Open   |   31 December 2024

Debate: Is ethnobiology romanticizing traditional practices, posing an urgent need for more experimental studies evaluating local knowledge systems?

In recent decades, local ecological and medical knowledge and practices have been the core of a number of white papers at international level and are rapidly becoming more visible within the public arena. However, some may argue that there is a serious risk to romanticize these local knowledge systems far beyond their essence and to neglect the fact that local knowledge is often fuzzy, hieratic, heterogeneous, contradictory, and especially needing to be seriously assessed by experimental studies.

Debate: Are local knowledge systems still practised mainly because of less-advantaged circumstances?

As recently postulated, local ecological knowledge sometimes may not be maintained because of positive values about the environment and by the choice of local communities, but quite the opposite, by their lack of choice underpinned by poverty or deprivation. We invited expert authors to make the case for and against this thesis.

Traditional ecological knowledge sustains due to poverty and lack of choices rather than thinking about the environment

Abdullah Abdullah and Shujaul Mulk Khan argue why and how traditional ecological knowledge is driven by poverty and lack of choices rather than positive environmental values.

Local and traditional knowledge systems, resistance, and socioenvironmental justice

Natalia Hanazaki provides counterarguments against the causal argument that the maintenance of local and traditional knowledge systems is related to less advantaged circumstances. 

Debate: Should ethnobiology and ethnomedicine more decisively foster hypothesis-driven forefront research able to turn findings into policy and abandon more classical folkloric studies?

Key expert authors argue for and against the need to de-emphasise the role of classical folkloric studies in research in ethnobiology and ethnomedicine.

Descriptive ethnobotanical studies are needed for the rescue operation of documenting traditional knowledge

In this debate, Łukasz Łuczaj claims that the primary aim of ethnobiological research is now to document disappearing traditional knowledge, as a priority due to the rate at which biocultural biodiversity in the world is disappearing.

Beyond artificial academic debates: for a diverse, inclusive, and impactful ethnobiology and ethnomedicine

Victoria Reyes-García argues that a major strength of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine is their ability to bridge theories and methods from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, and that fragmentation through opposing different approaches might weaken the discipline. 

Integrating depth and rigor in ethnobiological and ethnomedical research

In this rebuttal, Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque and Romulo Romeu da Nóbrega Alves argue for a synergistic approach where both descriptive ethnobiology and hypothesis-driven research are valued for their unique contributions to understanding human–nature interactions and informing policy.

Submission Guidelines

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This Debate welcomes submission of Research Articles, Data Notes, Case Reports, Study Protocols, and Database Articles. Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have read our submission guidelines. Articles for this Debate should be submitted via our submission system, Snapp. During the submission process you will be asked whether you are submitting to a Debate, please select "The Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine Debates Series" from the dropdown menu.

Articles will undergo the journal’s standard peer-review process and are subject to all of the journal’s standard policies. Articles will be added to the Debate as they are published.

The Guest Editors have no competing interests with the submissions which they handle through the peer review process. The peer review of any submissions for which the Guest Editors have competing interests is handled by another Editorial Board Member who has no competing interests.