Rediscovering and Safeguarding Nordic Ethnobotanical Heritage

Nordic cuisine is on the rise. But how do we know whether that what is marketed as Nordic cuisine indeed has its origins in historical Scandinavian food practices?

Organised by Studium Generale

Tue 28 January 2020 20:00

Venue Impulse, building number 115
Room Speakers corner

Rediscovering and Safeguarding Nordic Ethnobotanical Heritage

Maybe you have noticed it – Nordic cuisine is on the rise and enjoying increasing popularity worldwide. But how do we know whether that what is marketed as Nordic cuisine indeed has its origins in historical Scandinavian food practices? What did the diet of the Vikings look like and what were their medicinal plants?

By taking Scandinavia as an example, this lecture will explore the many facets of ethnobotany in connection with history, anthropology, archaeology and philology in the humanities, and botany, population genomics and conservation biology in the life sciences. Using a cultural evolution approach, we can, like a detective, try to understand the ways different cultures relate to plants over time. Follow the Vikings on their travels and find out what interdisciplinary ethnobotanical research reveals. What are the implications of this interdisciplinary research for innovative cuisine and sustainable development?

About Irene Teixidor-Toneu

Irene Teixidor-Toneu is an ethnobotanist with experience in medicinal plant research and cross-cultural quantitative analysis of medical systems. Cultural and biological diversity are core themes in her work. She is fascinated by how beings are related to each other and to the environment, and how humans perceive and interact with nature. Her fields of enquiry include ethnobotany and ethnomedicine, cultural evolution and evolutionary medicine, biodiversity and biocultural conservation, and interdisciplinary approaches to study biocultural diversity.

Irene Teixidor-Toneu
Irene Teixidor-Toneu

Irene conducted her PhD research at the University of Reading (UK) on the role of medicinal plant use on the healthcare of communities in rural Morocco. She studied how knowledge is transmitted and passed between generations and across cultures, and how medicinal plant use can contribute to the conservation of biocultural diversity. Thereafter, she contributed with ethnobiological research to sustainable development and biodiversity conservation projects in the Moroccan High Atlas led by the Global Diversity Foundation. 

Currently, Irene is a postdoctoral fellow at the Natural History Museum (NHM) of the University of Oslo (Norway). She is undertaking a comparative study of botanical knowledge across Scandinavia using a cultural evolution research approach. Together with a botanist and a cultural historian, she is examining the variability of plant usages and knowledge among Scandinavian countries and how this has changed through time.​

About lecture series Plant-People Relationships

Humankind is seriously jeopardizing the natural world. This increasingly affects every way in which we relate to nature, as biological and cultural diversity are linked and interdependent. So what else is being lost alongside biodiversity? Ethnobotany, which studies the relationships between plants and people, sheds light on these matters by bringing together natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. And what can ethnobotany teach us about biocultural diversity conservation?