CFP: Ethnobiology – Perspectives from History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science (deadline: Jul. 20, 2019)

Issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, David Ludwig and Francisco Vergara-Silva (eds.)

Ethnobiology is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of biological and social sciences that studies knowledge systems and practices of Indigenous, traditional, and other local communities. The complexity of biological expertise beyond academia raises both theoretical and normative questions about knowledge diversity in biological and environmental research. First, there are epistemological and ontological questions about different ways of producing, organizing, and validating biological knowledge. Second, there are ethical and political questions about the role of different knowledge systems in shaping policies and practices.

Despite these complex theoretical and normative issues, ethnobiology currently lacks integration with debates in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS) more generally. This special issue aims to synthesize these academic discourses and thereby develop an agenda for history, philosophy, and social studies of ethnobiology. We invite contributions that address questions such as:

  • How does research on local biological knowledge relate to philosophical debates about expertise, knowledge diversity, and standpoint theory?
  • How do cross-cultural similarities between biological epistemologies, ontologies, and values contribute to debates about issues such as cognitive universals, natural kinds, and ontological realism?
  • How do cross-cultural differences between biological epistemologies, ontologies, and values contribute to debates about issues such as incommensurability, social construction, and relativism?
  • How are biological knowledge systems and environmental practices related to wider intellectual traditions such as Buddhist, Buen Vivir, or Ubuntu philosophies?
  • How does local knowledge interact with normative questions about epistemic injustice and the political ecology of bioprospecting, traditional medicine, climate injustice, food sovereignty, forest conservation, and so on?
  • How did ethnobiology become institutionalized as an academic field and what historical factors have shaped its agendas?
  • How does the relatively short history of institutionalized ethnobiology relate to the long history of interactions between academic biologists and local experts? How do they relate to (anti-)colonial histories of botany from the British Raj to the Dutch West Indies?
  • What does ethnobiology mean for life sciences in the “Global South” and how does the field challenge hierarchies between geographic centers and peripheries of biological research?
  • What is the contribution of ethnobiology to wider debates about participatory research, responsible innovation, inclusive policy, and public engagement with science?

Please submit an abstract of max. 500 words until 20 July 2019 to and We will invite full papers by 1 August 2019 and the deadline for full papers is 1 November 2019. Full papers will have to follow the general Guide for Authors of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

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