‘If you look after nature, the land will look after you’: Indigenous knowledge of medicine and food in Lembata, Eastern Indonesia

Title: ‘If you look after nature, the land will look after you’: Indigenous knowledge of medicine and food in Lembata, Eastern Indonesia

Summary: This project explores Indigenous storytelling and knowledge practices on the island of Lembata, Eastern Indonesia. Culturally (and linguistically) there are two main ethnic (adat) groups: Lamaholot and Kedang. Oral traditions are preserved in memories and stories. Indigenous knowledge about food and plants is embedded in the close spiritual connection of people to each other and their environment. This is expressed in local food and medicinal plants as teachers, where food and healing are not distinguished as separate entities.

Women healers identify, collect, and use certain types of plants. Their knowledge is situated, performed, and gendered.  It is handed down through generations and given to certain people.

Not all knowledge is meant to be widely shared, and Indigenous communities selectively perform, conceal, and obscure important aspects of their lives.

Within this context, this project aims to address gaps in two areas: 1) Indigenous knowledge of medicine and food; and 2) the gendered dimensions of knowledge practices. It will foster interdisciplinary research collaboration and establish the foundation for long-term ethnographic research engaging with Indigenous storytelling and knowledge practices in Eastern Indonesia.

Funding:

$9,950

Investigators:

Dr Justin Wejak (CI)
Dr Andrew Rawluk (CI) 
Dr Anna Sanders (CI)
Dr Sophie Pascoe (CI)
Ms Tessa Toumbourou (CI)
Mr Doni Marmer (CI)
Mr Ansel Deri (PI)
Dr Fransiskus Kia Duan (PI)

Organisations:

The University of Melbourne
Yayasan Fajar Timur Baru
Papua Circle Institute
Universitas Nusa Cendana