Publication details

Cultural consensus and intracultural diversity in ethnotaxonomy: lessons from a fishing community in Northeast Brazil


RENCK Vítor APGAUA Deborah M. G. TNG David Y. P. BOLLETTIN Paride LUDWIG David EL-HANI Charbel N.

Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Artisanal fishers Ethnobiology; Ethnozoology; Indigenous and local knowledge; Free list; Triad task
Description Traditional fishing communities are strongholds of ethnobiological knowledge but establishing to what degree they harbor cultural consensus about different aspects of this knowledge has been a challenge in many ethnobiological studies. We conducted an ethnobiological study in an artisanal fishing community in northeast Brazil, where we interviewed 91 community members (49 men and 42 women) with different type of activities (fishers and non-fishers), in order to obtain free lists and salience indices of the fish they know. To establish whether there is cultural consensus in their traditional knowledge on fish, we engaged a smaller subset of 45 participants in triad tasks where they chose the most different fish out of 30 triads. We used the similarity matrices generated from the task results to detect if there is cultural consensus in the way fish were classified by them. he findings show how large is the community’s knowledge of fish, with 197 ethnospecies registered, of which 33 species were detected as salient or important to the community. In general, men cited more fish than women. We also found that there was no cultural consensus in the ways fish were classified.Both free-listing and triad task methods revealed little cultural consensus in the way knowledge is structured and how fish were classified by community members. Our results suggest that it is prudent not to make assumptions that a given local community has a single cultural consensus model in classifying the organisms in their environment.

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