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PhD position in ethnobotany/cultural geography: Diasporas and transnational networks of plant circulation

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : USR3456-LAUDAN-001
Workplace : CAYENNE
Date of publication : Friday, May 15, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : guillaume.odonne@cnrs.fr
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Funding: 80PRIME-CNRS
Many diasporas maintain close relationships with plants, whether food, medicinal or ritual plants, especially with certain culturally important species (cultural keystone species). The supply of these plants is often delicate, particularly in the case of long-distance migrations, and can lead to commercial, formal or informal flows of plants, sometimes leading to biological invasions. The project studies the interplay between biological and cultural processes and the geographical dynamics inherent in these flows, using a combination of ethnobotanical, geographical, anthropological (and, in a second stage, molecular biology) methods. This work will be anchored on the Guyana Plateau (French Guiana, Guyana and Suriname), but may involve diasporas to/from Europe, America, Asia or Africa, with a view to deciphering the biocultural hybridization mechanisms involved in the adaptation of societies to a changing environment.
The PhD work associated with this project will focus on one or two diaspora groups (depending on the languages spoken by the candidate and his/her academic background) to conduct ethnobotanical surveys, aimed at listing plants and their uses and collecting specimens for identification (and subsequent analysis). Attention will be paid to the discourse on provenance and the path that led them to their final user. This analysis of the stages in the movement of plants, to be compared with the itinerary of the migrants, will compose a geography of circulation and will highlight the organisation of the networks that contribute to the "mobility" of plants. Surveys on current dynamics, coupled with the results obtained from the historical study of migrations and potential genetic analyses on the samples collected, will make it possible to compile a map of plant flows at different scales.
Ethnographic surveys will also examine the ability of groups to adapt to new biocultural contexts and their strategies for acquiring or conserving 'cultural' species. They will provide information on the resilience of cultures in the context of migration and on the circulation of plant products outside conventional channels. They will contribute to a reflection on the place of plants in the migratory process, on their sensitive and symbolic dimension and their role in the construction of identity. They will also make it possible to update the mechanisms underlying the adaptation of a society to its environment, as well as the various ways of circumventing them that allow the cultural norms of a social group to be maintained outside its original framework. A landscape analysis highlighting the introduction of species into the local environment could be envisaged. Finally, these mechanisms should be compared with the ontology of the societies concerned in order to feed the conceptual thinking associated with this project.

Work Context

The thesis work will be carried out at the Laboratoire Ecologie, Evolution et Interactions des Systèmes Amazoniens (LEEISA-UMR CNRS 3456), in French Guiana. The thesis will be supervised by Guillaume Odonne, CR HDR at CNRS (section 38 and CID 52), with co-supervision by Lucie Dejouhanet, MCF in Geography (section 23) at the University of the West Indies. Duration of the doctoral contract: 36 months from recruitment, enrolment at the doctoral school of the University of French Guiana. The manuscript may be written in French or English and will at least lead to papers published in English in international reference journals.
Project Participants: Guillaume Odonne (CRCN-HDR/CNRS), Marc-Alexandre Tareau (ATER/Université de Guyane), Audrey Bochaton (MCU/Université Paris Nanterre/Institut des Migrations), Lucie Dejouhanet (MCU/Université des Antilles/Institut Universitaire de France/Institut des Migrations), Tinde van Andel (Senior researcher/Naturalis)

Constraints and risks

Driving license and yellow fever vaccination certificate mandatory

Additional Information

The doctoral student should be able to construct a theoretical reflection based on the other case studies carried out by the team members and on his/her own investigations.
The profile sought is a doctoral with an interdisciplinary profile capable of conducting ethnographic and ethnobotanical investigations, with a strong interest in some of the following disciplines: botany, ethnosciences, anthropology, human ecology and geography. The candidate will be competent in both qualitative surveys and quantitative analyses, and will have to mobilise a variety of methodologies, or even implement them in a context of disciplinary decompartmentalisation. Knowledge of the context of the French Guiana Plateau will be a plus, as well as knowledge of a language of a diaspora group from the plateau.
The fields envisaged could be, for example and depending on the candidate's tropism, the flow of ornamental and food plants between Laos and French Guiana under the impetus of the H'mongs, the supply networks for African medicinal and ritual plants in the Maroon diaspora of French metropolises, the practices around traditional rice (Asian and African) among the H'mong and Businengue people, or the recomposition of Jamu medicine between Indonesia and Suriname/Guyana.

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