Geography ETDs

Author

Maureen Meyer

Publication Date

9-12-2014

Abstract

This research examines Dominican culture through exploring medicinal plant use on the island. Dominica, located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean Archipelago, offers a distinctive setting because historically there has been an amalgamation of cultures that have participated in and influenced the formation of Dominican culture. This research sought to identify what plants were known and used on the island in order to assess cultural retention and syncretism that has evolved as a result of the comingling of these cultures. In so doing, it was evident that environmental knowledge gained through experience has been critical for survival throughout Dominican history. The role of weedy species, the everyday use of teas, as well as the salience of species and their use hint at the creation of cultural identity. This research was conducted in five locations on the western side of Dominica. Qualitative methods in the form of semi-structured interviews were used and the informants were acquired through snowball and random sampling techniques. Fifteen people were interviewed of which four were women and eleven men. These interviews provided an opportunity to learn through interaction about Dominican culture and at the same time collect medicinal plant information. However, it was through the analysis that Dominican knowledge pertaining to medicinal plants and their use was deciphered. The data was analyzed through categorization within excel spreadsheets. The spreadsheets distinguished the plants common name, the Patwa/ Kwèyól name, scientific name, plant family, location where it was harvested, part of plant used, illnesses treated, and the form in which it was administered. Medicinal plant use on the island of Dominica has evolved over time. The various influences—cultural and environmental—have impacted the knowledge surrounding what and how specific plants are used through the histories that have manifested themselves on this island. These narratives of how people use plants, why they use them, and how this knowledge came to be, reveals important aspects of Dominican culture which contribute to the exploration of cultural influences in the creation of Caribbean identities.'

Degree Name

Geography

Department Name

Geography

Level of Degree

Masters

First Advisor

Duvall, Chris

First Committee Member (Chair)

Lowery, Tim

Second Committee Member

Harm-Benson, Melinda

Document Type

Thesis

Project Sponsors

Office of Graduate Studies - University of New Mexico (Research,Project, and Travel Grant)

Language

English

Keywords

Cultural Geography, Medicinal Plants, Dominica, Disturbance Ecology

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