Learning ecology: ethnobotany in the Sierra Tarahumara, Mexico

My doctoral dissertation (2000-2003) looked into intracultural variation of plant knowledge and social networks in Rarámuri communities in different social and educational environments, using quantitative and qualitative methods. I identified patterns in children’s knowledge acquisition that are linked to the social transformations their communities are experiencing, for example, rapidly increasing contact with non-Rarámuri education systems and subsistence modes. Contrary to expectations, children attending boarding schools were not any less likely to have mastered a complete ethnobotanical repertoire, as long as their families were still knowledgeable.

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