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Seeing the wood for the trees: the role of whoopy resources for the construction of gender specific household cultural artefacts in non-traditional communities in Eastern Cape, South Africa.

By K.F. Wiersum, M.L. Cocks, L. Bangay and A.P. Dold

Abstract

There is a growing wealth of data capturing the direct-use values of the environment and recognition of forests and wild resources as representing ¿the poor man¿9s overcoat¿. This focus has however resulted in an emphasis on the utilitarian values of wild resources for rural livelihoods and has for the most part overlooked their cultural values. In tangent to these developments within the field of anthropology there has been increased attention directed towards the relationship between biodiversity and human diversity over the past decade. This has resulted in the recognition of what the Declaration of Belem calls an ¿8inextricable link¿9 between biological and cultural diversity. The term bio-cultural diversity has been introduced as a concept denoting this link. Consequently there is a need for more elaborate assessments of the various ways in which different groups of people find value in biodiversity. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate the cultural significance of wild harvested plant resources for the maintenance of two gender specific cultural artefacts for amaXhosa people in South Africa, to assess the persistence of these practices in rapidly modernizing communities. We demonstrate the endurance of these ancient cultural artefacts in present-day peri-urban communities and suggest that they point to the need for improved understanding of the significance of bio-cultural diversity. The findings of the study should not be interpreted as illustrating stagnation in the traditional past, but rather as pointing at the need for improved understanding of the significance of bio-cultural diversity in a dynamic sense

Year: 2006
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Provided by: NARCIS
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