Sensory Ecology, Bioeconomy, and the Age of COVID: A Parallax View of Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge.

Publication date: Jul 13, 2023

Drawing on original ethnobotanical and anthropological research among Indigenous peoples across the Amazon, we examine synergies and dissonances between Indigenous and Western scientific knowledge about the environment, resource use, and sustainability. By focusing on the sensory dimension of Indigenous engagements with the environment-an approach we have described as “sensory ecology” and explored through the method of “phytoethnography”-we promote a symmetrical dialogue between Indigenous and scientific understandings around such phenomena as animal-plant mutualisms, phytochemical toxicity, sustainable forest management in “multinatural” landscapes, and the emergence of new diseases like the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Drawing examples from our own and other published works, we explore the possibilities and limitations of a “parallax view” attempting to hold Indigenous and scientific knowledge in focus simultaneously. As the concept of “bioeconomy” emerges as a key alternative for sustainable development of the Amazon, we encourage a critical and urgent engagement between dominant Western conceptions and Indigenous Amazonian knowledge, practices, and cultural values. Cognitive science, which has long contributed to studies of Indigenous categorization and conceptualization of the natural world, continues to play an important role in building bridges of mutual communication and respect between Indigenous and scientific approaches to sustainability and biodiversity conservation.

Concepts Keywords
Amazonian Amazonia
Bioeconomy Bioeconomy
Coronavirus Development
Forest Sustainability
Long Traditional ethnoecological knowledge


Type Source Name
disease VO age
disease MESH COVID-19

Original Article

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