Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues)

The Islands of Reunión, Mauritius and Rodrigues have their own unique medical traditions. These medical traditions have emerged from multiple origins through a process of creolisation, but they are also closely tied to the natural world in which they have adapted and evolved. They thus provide a key to understanding the wider societies, which are engaged in a constant dialectic between tradition and modernity.

Beginning at the end of the Seventeenth Century, these islands were gradually populated by populations originating from Europe, Madagascar, Africa, India, China, even Polynesia and Australia. The interchange between the medical traditions originating from each of these places has given rise to a common knowledge, transmitted largely by women.

This book brings to our attention the knowledge of medicinal plants and medical practices of these women, with special focus on childbirth. It also considers the place of medicinal knowledge within these evolving societies who are actively confronting the threats and opportunities that globalization poses to local identities.

The book was launched at the International Workshop on Bioprocessing, Policy and Practice: Conservation and use of Medicinal plants of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Indian Ocean and Madagascar (April 20-22, 2011 - Ebène, Mauritius).

Further intormation:

International Workshop on Bioprocessing, Policy and Practice

A partnership between UNESCO and Mauritius’ Centre for Phytotherapy and Research, the workshop aims to share information and experience of the Indian Ocean SIDS and Madagascar in the conservation, management and exploitation of the region’s medicinal plants. Special emphasis will be laid on:

  1. the role of natural products chemistry and potential for drug development in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries;
  2. policy frameworks for management and conservation;
  3. intellectual property rights and access and benefit sharing

By bringing together scientists, policy makers and traditional medicine practitioners, it also aims to provide a platform where the stakeholders from the region can exchange information and concerns, establish working links to existing medicinal plant databases, and create a network within the sub-region for exchange and development in relevant fields. Particular attention will be paid to integrating the perspectives, concerns and rights of traditional medical practitioners into the process.

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