Sustenance, nourishment, and cultivation: Plants as living cultural heritage for dispersed Chagossians in Mauritius, Seychelles, and the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Applying a critical heritage studies approach to plants, this article explores how plant knowledge and use, plant exchange, and plant symbolism and materiality feature in the social life of the dispersed Chagossian community in Mauritius, Seychelles, and the UK. First, plant use helps to sustain collective knowledge in new environmental conditions and social settings. Second, plant exchange nourishes kinship and other social relationships within the extended community. Third, plant symbolism and materiality cultivate nostalgic links to idealized homelands in the context of community dispersal. Nevertheless, the capacity of plants to contribute to these social processes is limited by challenges to intergenerational knowledge transmission across time and space, and by environmental, financial, and regulatory constraints on plant migration. The article argues that for the displaced Chagossian community, plants are living cultural heritage with social potential (albeit constrained) in the context of dislocation and loss, ongoing suffering, and geographical dispersal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)296-313
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume22
Issue number2
Early online date28 Mar 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016

Keywords

  • heritage
  • medicinal plants
  • plant exchange
  • plant migration
  • Chagos

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sustenance, nourishment, and cultivation: Plants as living cultural heritage for dispersed Chagossians in Mauritius, Seychelles, and the UK'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this