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Are identities oral? Understanding ethnobotanical knowledge after Irish independence (1937-1939)

Shannon, F; Sasse, A; Sheridan, H; Heinrich, M; (2017) Are identities oral? Understanding ethnobotanical knowledge after Irish independence (1937-1939). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine , 13 , Article 65. 10.1186/s13002-017-0189-0. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Schools' Folklore Scheme (1937-1939) was implemented at a pivotal time in Irelands' political history. It resulted in a body of ethnological information that is unique in terms of when, why and how it was collected. This material consists of over 700,000 pages of information, including ethnomedicinal and ethnobotanical traditions, reflecting an oral identity that spans generations and that in many cases was not documented in writing until the 1930s. The intention of this study is to highlight the importance of the Schools' Folklore Scheme and to demonstrate an ethnographic approach based on recollections of original participants of the scheme, to further understand the material in the collection and the impact it had on the participants. METHODS: This study involves an analysis of both oral and archival data. Eleven semi-structured interviews with original participants of the scheme were carried out between April and September 2016. Their corresponding schools' archival contributions to the scheme were located, and ethnomedicinal information was analysed and compared with the participants' recollections. RESULTS: The majority of participants' stated the scheme had a positive impact on them. Five participants' recalled collecting ethnomedicinal information, and there was a direct correlation between three of the participants' ethnomedicinal recollections and their entries in the archives. One third of all the ethnomedicinal entries analysed included the use of a plant. There were 191 plant mentions and 64 plant species named. CONCLUSIONS: Contacting the original participants offers a novel approach of analysing this archival material. It provides a unique first-hand account of this historical initiative, an insight into how the scheme was implemented and how it impacted upon the children. The ethnomedicinal and ethnobotanical information provides an understanding of the medicinal practices in Ireland during the 1930s. The plant species that were both orally recalled by participants and documented in the archives are in keeping with key ethnomedicinal systems throughout the world.

Type: Article
Title: Are identities oral? Understanding ethnobotanical knowledge after Irish independence (1937-1939)
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s13002-017-0189-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-017-0189-0
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, Ethnomedicine, Ireland, Oral identity, Schools' Folklore Scheme, Schools' Manuscript Collection
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > UCL School of Pharmacy > SoP Pharmaceutical and Bio Chemistry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10039685
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