Ethnobotany spring 2004 final examination

Essay questions

Answer the following three essay questions. Your choice whether you type or write out your essays. You can email your essays to me if you like:

  1. Explain in some detail the following statement, which is taken from page 11 of Balick and Cox: "This triad of immobility, carbohydrate production, and diverse biochemistry makes plants far more useful to human beings than animals can be."
  2. An ethnobotanist working with elders in Micronesia is taught the traditional use of plant. What kind of information, ethnographic and botanical, needs to be collected in order to document use of plants by traditional peoples?
  3. Use the following to put together an essay on the psychoactive plant Piper methysticum.
    1. To what botanic family does Piper methysticum belong?
    2. Where did the use of Piper methysticum (sakau en Pohnpei) originate?
    3. Briefly describe the Pohnpeian sakau ceremony as performed in Sokehs.
    4. What are the typical sensory effects of sakau?
    5. Pohnpei is unique among Micronesians in centering the social ceremonies of life - birth, asking for a daughter to be a wife, celebrations, apologies, first fruits, and death - around a single sacred plant. The plant is part of a Pohnpeian's life from cradle to grave.

      Comment on the pros and cons of having a psychoactive sacred ceremonial plant at the center of a culture and life.

      For further thought and illumination: Consider this question carefully and answer thoughtfully. There are many aspects from which to tackle this question. Your own personal views or those of your culture. Think about impacts on social well being, health, and community. What are the positives and negatives you have heard or encountered? Compare and contrast to other cultures. Think about the potential complexity of taking a culture abroad in which the culture is centered on a tropical narcotic - a complexity not faced by the Kosraen or Chuukese cultures.

      As with all of the material we have tackled this term, this is sensitive material and ground. As you frame your thinking you may find you see only pros or only cons, only things that are good or only things that are not. Reach beyond your preconceptions and search for both the good and the not good. Work to produce a balanced answer.

Due 4:15 P.M. Tuesday 11 May 2004