Journal of Ethnobiology
Sociology & Anthropology
The present work offers a renewed perspective on natural-kind classification in the field of ethnobiology, one that focuses on analyzing higher-order classifications as a form of narrative. By examining changes in classification of materia medica in three main medical/pharmacological texts from three time periods of the Tibetan medicine tradition, we see an overarching shift in classification from a focus on medical efficacy to one on material substance and morphology, thus suggesting influence from pre-twenty-first century western, Linnaean science. The work then links this historical narrative to the complexities of classification of materia medica among contemporary doctors of Tibetan medicine in the People’s Republic of China, who utilize several classificatory schemata. The work encourages continued research in the area of diachronic classification, particularly in terms of what can be gleaned about cultural, political, and social changes in a tradition.
Glover, Denise M. 2018. "Classification as Narrative: A Renewed Perspective on a Longstanding Topic in Ethnobiology." Journal of Ethnobiology 38(1):105-123.