New book: People and natures / Hommes et natures / Seres humanos y naturalezas


I've three photos published here: 

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Motte-Florac, Élisabeth, Yildiz Aumeeruddy-Thomas, and Edmond Dounias, eds. 2012. People and natures / Hommes et natures / Seres humanos y naturalezas. Marseille: IRD Éditions.

Format 27 x 24 cm
ISBN: 978-2-7099-1724-7
Language(s): French, English, Spanish
Price: 35,00 €

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Order from the publishers. Ordering page here.
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Released in conjunction with the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (Montpellier, France, 21st to 25th May 2012), this is a beautifully compiled book of photographs showing the diversity of ways that societies around the world interact with, and in turn are shaped by, their environments. The background to the book is the need to recognize diversity and complexity in these interactions, as a basis for decision-making and policy implementation in sustainable development.

My rough translation of the blurb:
Understanding how human societies and their natural environment influence each other is at the heart of all major contemporary environmental issues, such as sustainable development and climate change. Indigenous peoples and local communities—possessors of remarkable knowledge of nature and associated know-how—are now recognized as key players in the political management of biodiversity. Through photographs taken on all continents..., this book makes accessible to all the incredible complexity of the ties between people and nature and the resulting lifestyles, as well as a high range of issues that must be addressed...

The book is organised in six sections, which are all introduced by short sound-bite descriptions:

  • Natures and people
  • Between tangible and intangible
  • From oral to written
  • From ancient to contemporary
  • Research, one and multiple
  • Actions and actors

There is also a foreword by Dounias (an ethnobiologist at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement at Montpellier [IRD]), an introduction by Motte-Florac and Aumeeruddy-Thomas (ethnopharmocologists at the University of Montpellier and CNRS respectively) explaining each of the above themes, a lexicon of vernacular names, an index of scientific names, and a useful map of photograph locations. Each photo takes up a whole page (see accompanying image) and has a paragraph-length caption (supplied by the photographers) describing the environmental relations depicted in the photos. The photos were mostly shot in the course of fieldwork, by a diverse group of researchers around the world.

In editor Dounias' words:
the development of a broadly accessible book depicting research in ethnobiology is timely and welcome. This book attempts to show the remarkable diversity of issues that must be addressed if we are to understand the processes that link human societies to their natural environment. Its goal is to make accessible to all readers the incredible complexity of these interactions, which explains the great difficulty of the transition from intention to action.  This complexity is so great that that it requires prudence and sound judgment in decision-making and implementation. The challenge in producing this book was to communicate this complexity in a few pages, and in a way that combines accessibility and aesthetics, making it pleasurable to read. Only photographs, enhanced by concise text, made it possible to reconcile these conflicting constraints a priori. The photographs in this collection are the result of a difficult selection process, during which we sought images that both engage the eye and provoke thought. Most photographs were taken by researchers during their fieldwork. Above all, this book—beyond artistic considerations—hopes to be a manifesto from a community of researchers whose job has changed dramatically over the past two decades. The photographs that comprise it give witness to societies undergoing transformation, requiring new evolution in research, and calling on researchers to question themselves. We can only welcome these developments. (p. 14)
As one of the contributors, I'm thrilled with the high quality of work displayed here: not just the production values, which are excellent, but the photographic skills of my colleagues, and the many intelligent uses of the environment displayed in these pages.

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