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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-235
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geography
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008

Keywords

  • benefit sharing
  • traditional medicines
  • indigenous knowledge
  • commodification

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'From life force to slimming aid: exploring views on the commodification of traditional medicinal knowledge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this