Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) Talk
Philosophical Investigations in Ethnobotany
Catherine Kendig, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
Lichens have a weird naming history. They have been and continue to be classified outside the formal Linnaean system by both lichenologists and indigenous naturalists such as the Sámi and Sherpa. These informal nomenclatural practices encode knowledge about the physiology of lichen symbionts, their economic use as the basis of textile dyes, as an ingredient in bread and beer-making, the source of medicine, and as a critical foodstuff central to reindeer husbandry. These diverse nomenclatures can contribute to understanding not only in ethnolichenology, history, and physiology, but also in metaphysics. But how should we go about retaining this diverse knowledge when doing so requires much more than simply compiling a list of synonyms? I explore plural, perspectival strategies of knowledge integration, paying attention to the diverse purposes for which lichens are named and the frequently incommensurable ontologies employed to ground lichen names.
Talk begins at 12:00 and runs about 1 hour. Networking with coffee and refreshments immediately after the talk.
About C4I: The Michigan State University Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) advances interdisciplinary research and pedagogy at the University while preparing the next generation of citizen leaders to address the most challenging questions of our time. In addition to conducting its own research, C4I serves as a resource for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students in the College of Arts & Letters and across campus, as well as for partners in the local community and across the region. It also serves as an advocate for researchers and scholars, consults with teams, provides resources for and about interdisciplinarity, and creates opportunities for training, education, networking, mentorship, visibility, and funding both on and off campus.