The Nuaulu World of Plants is the culmination of almost 50 years of distinguished work in this field by Professor Roy Ellen.
The Nuaulu World of Plants, by Emeritus Professor Roy Ellen’s 2021 book, has won the 2022 Mary W. Klinger Book Award given by the Society for Economic Botany for an outstanding book published in the discipline of Economic/Ethno Botany. The Nuaulu World of Plants is the culmination of Roy Ellen’s anthropological fieldwork on the eastern Indonesian island of Seram, and of comparative enquiries into the bases of human classificatory activity through the study of ethnobiological knowledge over a fifty-year period.
This rich account of the ways plants feature in the worldview and lifeways of the Nuaulu, recognizes that plant knowledge is embedded in plural local and historical contexts: in swiddens, garden crops, managed fallow, village spaces and pathways; in the trees, and the ecological, conceptual and experiential relationships to forest; in plants’ roles as healing agents, raw materials, fuels and in ritual; and in historical flux, with the introduction of exotic plants and the impact of colonial and post-colonial ways of seeing the plant world. Ellen’s contemporary examination of Nuaulu classificatory practices, in the light of comparable observations made by the seventeenth-century Dutch naturalist Rumphius, allows us to better see how scientific taxonomy emerges from folk knowledge.
This award is named for Mary W. Klinger, a generous supporter of the SEB’s mission whose husband, Bruno Klinger, was a professor of botany and a specialist in poisonous plants at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Prof Ellen has donated his prize to the Student Awards programme of the Society for Economic Botany.
The award adds to Prof Ellen’s world wide distinguished reputation as a leader in his field, and enhances SAC’s global reputation as a leading centre to study and research Ethnobotany.