The Importance of Place Names in the Search for Ecosystem-Like Concepts in Indigenous Societies: An Example from the Bolivian Andes

Boillat, Sébastien; Serrano, Elvira; Rist, Stephan; Berkes, Fikret (2013). The Importance of Place Names in the Search for Ecosystem-Like Concepts in Indigenous Societies: An Example from the Bolivian Andes. Environmental management, 51(3), pp. 663-678. New York, N.Y.: Springer 10.1007/s00267-012-9969-4

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This paper aims to deepen the search for ecosystem-like concepts in indigenous societies by highlighting the importance of place names used by Quechua indigenous farmers from the central Bolivian Andes. Villagers from two communities in the Tunari Mountain Range were asked to list, describe, map and categorize the places they knew on their community’s territory. Results show that place names capture spatially explicit units which integrate biotic and abiotic nature and humans, and that there is an emphasis on topographic terms, highlighting the importance of geodiversity. Farmers’ perspectives differ from the classical view of ecosystems because they ‘humanize’ places, considering them as living beings with agency. Consequently, they do not make a distinction between natural and cultural heritage. Their perspective of the environment is that of a personalized, dynamic relationship with the elements of the natural world that are perceived as living entities. A practical implication of the findings for sustainable development is that since places names make the links between people and the elements of the landscape, toponymy is a tool for ecosystem management rooted in indigenous knowledge. Because place names refer to holistic units linked with people’s experience and spatially explicit, they can be used as an entry point to implement an intercultural dialogue for more sustainable land management.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Integrative Geography > Unit Geography of Sustainable Development
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre (discontinued)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Rist, Stephan

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics

ISSN:

0364-152X

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Users 124 not found.

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:43

Last Modified:

05 Nov 2015 10:18

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s00267-012-9969-4

Web of Science ID:

000315416900012

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/17753 (FactScience: 225578)

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