ISSJ - N° 187 - Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity

March 2006

The relations between cultural diversity and biodiversity often seem little more than a vague analogy. They take on a much more specific meaning when biodiversity produced over time by human action is regarded as a manifestation of the diversity of cultures. Cultural diversity is thus an essential basis for worldwide action in favour of sustainable development. But to be able to manage something, one must first know what it is. This issue investigates the relations between local and indigenous societies and nature from the Philippines to Benin, from the sub-Arctic to Melanesia, and from Thailand to France. The papers focus on hybrid objects, which are at the same time natural and cultural, and stand at the limit between the domestic and the wild: local varieties and breeds, localised production processes, and landscapes modified by societies and qualified as natural and cultural. The relations between cultural diversity and biodiversity also make it necessary to ground sustainable development in the voices of those concerned. The articles in this issue are therefore polyphonic: they combine the voices of the Samis, Karens, Ifugao, Beninese, and Cévenols as indigenous peoples, researchers, and politicians, with the voices of environmental anthropologists and sociologists.

Most of the authors in this issue participated in the workshop “Biological diversity, cultural diversity: Issues relating to local knowledge” organised by Douglas Nakashima and Marie Roué within the framework of the international conference “Biodiversity, science, and governance” held at UNESCO, 24 to 28 January 2005.

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