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Ethnomycology among the Nuaulu of the Moluccas: Putting Berlin's "General Principles" of Ethnobiological Classification to the Test

Roy Ellen
Economic Botany
Vol. 62, No. 3, Special Mushroom Issue (Nov., 2008), pp. 483-496
Published by: Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40390485
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Ethnomycology among the Nuaulu of the Moluccas: Putting Berlin's "General Principles" of Ethnobiological Classification to the Test
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Abstract

Berlin's (Ethnobiological Classification: Principles of Categorization of Plants and Animals in Traditional Societies. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1992) universal theories of ethnobiological classification have provided an indispensable common rubric to compare data from diverse sources. This paper examines these principles with respect to the naming of mushrooms by the Nuaulu on the eastern Indonesian island of Seram, a people for whom mushrooms have only marginal significance. Concordance to Berlin's principles is noted in some respects, but the small proportion of overall mycological diversity that is treated, the lack of consistently labeled intermediate rankings, the conflation between specific and generic levels, and the importance of utilitarian considerations challenge Berlin's hierarchically ranked "general purpose" (i.e., natural) model of folk biological taxonomy. A comparative review of the literature on other, mostly tropical ethnomycological classifications, is also included.

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