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Medical Ethnobotany of Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu peoples of Cape York Peninsula, Australia: an integrated collaborative approach to understanding traditional phytotherapeutic knowledge and its applications

Edwards, Sarah Elizabeth; (2006) Medical Ethnobotany of Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu peoples of Cape York Peninsula, Australia: an integrated collaborative approach to understanding traditional phytotherapeutic knowledge and its applications. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are greatly disadvantaged, with low life expectancy and greater risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and renal disease. In the Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu community of Aurukun, Cape York Peninsula, local people utilise primary health care facilities provided by Queensland Health, and traditional 'bush medicine' or opar', based on oral pharmacopoeias of local plants and animals developed over thousands of years. However much of this traditional knowledge is rapidly lost through cultural erosion, typified by the fact that a number of local languages have become extinct or are endangered. By collaborating with Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu people, this ethnobotanical work focuses on local priorities, and how ethnobotany can be applied in these areas. These are specifically to help 'keep culture strong' by developing new methods to complement oral inter-generational transmission of ethnobiological knowledge; and with a focus on plant-based phytotherapies, including bush foods, to improve health. The main outcome is a database for local community use, which includes 206 Wik/Kugu taxon records and over a 1,000 scientific taxon records with associated data. Understanding Wik categorisation of biodiversity was necessary to link the two taxonomic systems in the database and facilitate querying across the ontological domains. Cross-cultural issues in provision of local primary health care were also investigated, which highlighted some of the challenges faced by health practitioners in Aurukun. Of course, an important prerequisite of this study was the recognition and respect of Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu intellectual property rights.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Medical Ethnobotany of Wik, Wik-Way and Kugu peoples of Cape York Peninsula, Australia: an integrated collaborative approach to understanding traditional phytotherapeutic knowledge and its applications
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Health and environmental sciences; Australia; Cape; Collaborative; Ethnobotany; Knowledge; Kugu; Medical; Peninsula; Peoples; Phytotherapeutic; Traditional; Wik; Wik-Way; York
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105289
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