Past ISE Field Fellows
Johannes Henricus “Jenne” de Beer is considered the “father” of the Non-Timber Forest Products movement by his Asian collaborators, in that he has drawn global attention to this important source of subsistence resources for local livelihoods as well as income for the rural and upland poor. His work at the grassroots level, in over six Asian countries is rare in that he is able to work with, understand, empower, and mobilize forest-based Indigenous communities towards defense of their ancestral territories in the sustainable utilization of forest resources. This Fellowship will support his dream of continuing his work to secure long-term resource and land rights for Indigenous peoples especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and the greater Mekong region.
About Jenne’s work:
Negrito Cultural Revival & Empowerment Initiative (Philippines)
As reported earlier on the ISE website, a successful “Mam-eh”1 Aeta Cultural Revival Festival cum Development Forum took place last April in Bgy. Sta. Juliana, Tarlac. The forest foods themed2 event was not only great fun, but also a huge morale booster – for those who participated, and also eventually resonating far beyond.
For the last couple of months and still at time of writing, I have been in full preparation for a similar event for this coming February with Ati and Ayta (former) hunter gatherers in the Visayas, covering the islands of Panay, Negros, Boracay and Sibuyan. This Festival/Development Forum will be hosted by an Ati PO, the ‘Malay Highlander Association’ in Aklan, Panay.
Meanwhile, a special featuring the Mam-eh festival in the NBTA newsletter3, on release, became an instant hit and subsequently turned into a helpful tool for explaining the larger idea behind the initiative in first contacts with communities, officials and others. The reaction of an Ayta chieftain in the thickly forested mountains above Cadiz, Negros Occidental, was typical. After carefully studying the pictures and after captions were explained, he exclaimed “See, there is no need for us to be ashamed!”.
A happy side event will be the first ever (!) exhibition on the cultures and ways of life of the Visayan Negritos, which will open immediately after the Aklan festival in the Negros History Museum in Bacolod. And the top organic restaurant in the same city is ‘in’ to organize a ‘Wild Food’ event at about the same time. (This, after the chef tasted some Collybia albuminosa, delicious mushrooms growing exclusively on termite mounds and which I brought fresh from the Cadiz mountains.)
Further scheduled for 2012 is a series of exchange visits and one of these exchanges will specifically involve traditional midwives. During activities and consultations over the last two years, I could not fail to notice that among Negrito leaders, a vastly disproportional number is made up of traditional midwifes or hilots. They also appear among the most knowledgeable, not only related to childbirth and health issues, but also in other fields.
And finally, much encouraged by NCIP4 Commissioner Conchina Calzado, the first Agta Dumagat ever appointed to the position, steps are already being taken (including fund raising) in preparation of a large scale national event assembling all the countries’ Negrito groups, which is tentatively scheduled for National IP Month (October, 2012). This event is scheduled to coincide with celebrations to commemorate “15 years IPRA”.
No Honey, No Money! (Indonesia)
A different type of event, though also concerning a beautiful forest food, took place last September in Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia. The Madhu Duniya5 (MD), a large gathering of Apis dorsata honey collectors from several countries in South and Southeast Asia, is set to provide a culturally appropriate platform for the sharing of expertise and experiences among peers. Only once before such a gathering had taken place, four years ago in Andhra Pradesh, India, and indeed there was much to share as many (mostly positive) developments have taken place since in the steadily expanding MD network.
During a related symposium on “Forest Honey, Health and Nutrition”, in the botanical garden of Bogor and with top experts involved, the superior health benefits of A. dorsata and Trigona spp. honey, pollen and propolis were extensively discussed6.
All of the above, already accomplished or just set in motion, are direct outcomes of the privilege I have had – thanks to the ISE Darrell Posey Fellowship – to, firstly, spend ample time with the Negrito hunter gatherers of the Philippines. Secondly, and likewise, the fellowship has enabled me to contribute to building a larger and more assertive community-based forest honey network in Asia. In recognition of the latter contribution, the participants in the Ujung Kulon meeting (again!) awarded this ISE Darrell Posey Field Fellow with a special “Dorsata Queen Bee” Award. Finally, I am most grateful to the many who volunteered to assist me whenever they could in these ventures!
- Sharing in the Aeta local dialect.
- More on the food aspect in the Workshop Report of Volume 3, Issue 1 of the ISE Newsletter, in: ‘On forest foods, a festival and community empowerment’, reproduced with permission from the CFA Newsletter No. 54, September 2011.
- Newsletter of the NTFP Task Force (Philippines) Issue 20, August 2011
- Philippines National Commission for Indigenous Peoples.
- Honey World in (originally) Sanskrit/Farsi.
- See further “Healing with Honey” at: www.ntfp.org
The work of ISE Field Fellow, Jenne de Beer, was highlighted by Kara Santos in The Philippines Daily Inquirer – Beyond Organic. “There’s not much attention given to the fantastic food that many of these people have in the forest,” said Jenne de Beer, a field fellow at the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE), who was among those who conceptualized the festival. The idea for the festival evolved from campfire discussions with local leaders, he added…
Read Jenne’s article, entitled Panuppoy! Cultural Revival in the Siera Madre (Philippines) on Page 10 in the Special Issue of the ISE Newsletter (March 2010).
Jenne’s Interim Report is also available for those interested in more details about his work.
Miguel Alexiades has worked with the Ese eja, a Takana-speaking group in the border regions of Amazonian Peru and Bolivia, since 1985. His applied ethnobotanical work has included setting up a community-based herbarium and registrar of medicinal and useful plants, as well as organizing workshops and preparing written and visual materials to facilitate the exchange and transmission of health-related knowledge. His doctoral dissertation examined Ese eja ethnoecology in the context of the socio-ecological and health changes of the 20th century.
The Darrell Posey Field Fellowship supports Dr. Alexiades’ current work, which involves helping the Ese eja and their representative organization, the FENAMAD (Federación Nativa del Madre de Dios), document social knowledge linked to traditionally occupied and utilized areas. While most Ese eja live in communities with titled lands, much of the Ese eja traditional territory falls outside the communities, and within the area of influence of several protected areas: the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park, the Tambopata National Reserve (Peru) and the Madidi National Park (Bolivia). Dr. Alexiades has been helping the Ese eja travel to different parts of their territory, using information technology to document precise locations, and record place names, oral histories and testimonies.
The interrelated goals of Dr. Alexiades’ applied ethnoecological work are to:
1. Provide a legal and moral basis for Ese eja stakeholder rights;
2. Develop written and audiovisual materials (community maps, booklets, videos) to assist the Ese eja in their attempts to secure highly endangered forms of social knowledge;
3. Facilitate the transmission of knowledge across generations and across communities which have in many cases, due to factors linked to social change, become increasingly dislocated and fragmented from each other and from their ancestral territory;
4. Raise the awareness of state and non-state planners, particularly in protected areas, as to the social history of the area and its implications for environmental management and social development; and
5. Facilitate the dialogue between the Ese eja and generate mechanisms for conflict resolution.
During the course of the Fellowship to date, Dr. Alexiades has undertaken several trips along the main course of the Sonene (Heath) River, and a map of the Ese Eja traditional territory associated with the Sonene has been prepared. Over 300 named places and associated narratives have been recorded along a 400km stretch of the river. Named and socially important features of the landscape include: natural features (e.g alluvial beaches and sand bars, tributaries, streams, lakes, cliffs); places of social or historical importance (old settlement sites, burial sites, old footpaths, sites linked to particular mythic events); and sites related to present subsistence (hunting, fishing, gathering) or past subsistence activities or forest management (old fallows and garden sites, and forest plantations of fruit trees, cultivated bamboos, fish poisons, etc.).
Two videos have been edited from footage shot during these trips, one for internal circulation among the Ese Eja, and another for public diffusion. The map of the Ese Eja ancestral territory along the Sonene River and the video were presented to representatives of several government and non-governmental organizations, as well as members of the general public by a delegation of Ese eja from three communities in Peru and the FENAMAD. The Darrell Posey Field Fellowship has also allowed Dr. Alexiades to facilitate the exchange of experiences, skills and resources between the Ese eja and other indigenous cultural landscape initiatives, particularly in western Amazonia.
During this time Dr. Alexiades also diffused some of this work among peers and practitioners through several publications and in a number of scientific meetings and research seminars, including:
Peluso, D. M. and M.N. Alexiades. 2005. Urban ethnogenesis begins at home: the making of self and place amidst the environmental economy in Amazonia. Traditional Settlements and Dwelling Review. 18: 7-16.
Research Seminars and Papers Delivered:
London School of Economics, Department of Social Anthropology. Latin America Seminar. May 23, 2005.
University of Durham, Department of Social Anthropology. Anthropology in Development Seminar Series. October 20, 2004.
Conferences, meetings and Research Papers:
Alexiades, M.N. 2005. Headwaters of the past: Ethnoecology, memory, and the struggle for nature in a western Amazonian landscape.” RAI Curl Lecture. “British Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, Dublin, 7 September 2005.
International Scientific Committee, International Congress of Ethnobotany, August 21-25, 2005, Istanbul, Turkey. Co-organizer with Dario Novellino of Panel titled “Transmission, contact and exchange of Plant Resources and Knowledge between regions: Historical and Contemporary Approaches.”
Invited discussant. “Appropriation regimes and management systems for biodiversity”. International Conference on Biodiversity: Science and Governance, UNESCO. Paris, 26 January 2005.
“Río Sonene: Tierra de los Ese Eja”. 43 mins. Producer and editor. FENAMAD, 2004.
“Sonene: Land of the Ese Eja”. 18 mins with subtitles. Producer and editor. FENAMAD, 2004.
2004 – 2006 Becario de Campo – Dr. Miguel N. Alexiades
Miguel Alexiades ha trabajado con el grupo de habla Takana, Ese eia, en la frontera Amazónica de Perú y Bolivia desde 1985. Su trabajo aplicado en etnobotánica incluye un herbolario comunitario, y un diccionario de plantas útiles o con usos medicinales. También ha organizando talleres y preparado materiales escritos y visuales para facilitar el intercambio y transmisión de conocimiento relacionado con la salud. Su tesis doctoral analizó la etnoecologia Ese eja en su contexto socio-ecológico y los cambios en la salud durante el siglo XX.
La Beca de Campo Darrell Posey ayudará a financiar el trabajo de Miguel Alexiades con el objetivo que los Ese eja y su organización FENAMAD (Federación Nativa del Madre de Dios), puedan documentar el conocimiento social relacionado con áreas tradicionalmente ocupadas y utilizadas. Aunque la mayoría de los Ese eja viven en comunidades con tierras tituladas, muchos de los territorios tradicionales se encuentran fuera de las comunidades y dentro del área de influencia de varias áreas protegidas como el Parque Nacional Bahuaja-Sonene y la Reserva Nacional Tambopata en Perú y el Parque Nacional Madidi en Bolivia. Miguel Alexiades ayuda a que los Ese eja recorran sus territorios utilizando tecnologías de información para documentar lugares precisos, sus nombres, historias orales y testimonios.
Las metas más específicas del trabajo aplicado etnoecológico de Miguel Alexiades son:
1. Conseguir una base legal y moral para los derechos de propiedad de los Ese eja.
2. Desarrollar materiales escritos y audiovisuales (mapas de la comunidad, boletines, videos) para ayudar a que los Ese eja puedan asegurar formas de conocimiento social que se encuentran en peligro;
3. Facilitar la transmisión de conocimiento entre generaciones y comunidades que en muchos casos, debido a factores relacionados con cambio social, se dislocan y fragmentan entre sí y de sus territorios ancestrales;
4. Crear conciencia entre planeadores estatales y no estatales, particularmente en áreas protegidas, sobre la historia del área y su impacto para el manejo ambiental y el desarrollo social; y
5. Facilitar el dialogo entre los Ese eja y generar mecanismos para la resolución de conflictos.
La Beca de Campo Darrell Posey también permitirá que Miguel Alexiades facilite el intercambio de experiencias, habilidades y recursos entre los Ese eja y otras iniciativas indígenas de paisaje cultural, particularmente en la Amazonía Occidental.