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From life force to slimming aid : exploring views on the commodification of traditional medicinal knowledge.

Vermeylen, Saskia (2008) From life force to slimming aid : exploring views on the commodification of traditional medicinal knowledge. Applied Geography, 28 (3). pp. 224-235. ISSN 0143-6228

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    Abstract

    The commodification of traditional knowledge is a lively topic for academic debate, with opinions ranging from categorical rejection of this process, to views that it could be a liberating act. This debate is often characterised by generalisations and a lack of empirical engagement. This paper presents a case study of the commercialisation of traditional medicinal knowledge of the San in Southern Africa. A scenario survey in 3 communities reveals a range of different views amongst individuals and communities, much of which could be linked to differing local and historic socio-economic factors. Although the survey indicates that commodification is widely accepted, the subsequent use of a ‘life story’ approach to examine the actual commercialisation of the Hoodia (Hoodia Gordonii—a plant with appetite suppressant properties), shows that this acceptance is problematic. San informants reflect on it as a pragmatic choice informed by experiences of deprivation and economic hardship, resulting in a process which changes the cultural meaning of the plant and undermine its traditional healing power for the San themselves.

    Item Type: Article
    Journal or Publication Title: Applied Geography
    Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Applied Geography 28 (3), 2008, © ELSEVIER.
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Benefit sharing ; Commodification ; Indigenous knowledge ; Traditional medicine
    Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
    Departments: UNSPECIFIED
    ID Code: 28093
    Deposited By: Dr. Saskia Vermeylen
    Deposited On: 09 Nov 2009 09:28
    Refereed?: Yes
    Published?: Published
    Last Modified: 23 Jul 2014 14:49
    Identification Number:
    URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/28093

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