Edited by Luisa Maffi. Out of Print
Biodiversity loss is a well-known phenomenon. Over the next thirty years, according to most projections, 20 percent of the world’s existing species may cease to exist. Less widely known, though attracting increasing attention, is the diversity loss that is affecting the world’s languages and cultures. Up to 11 percent of an estimated 6,000 spoken languages in the world today are “nearly extinct,” and as many as 90 percent of those languages may vanish during the course of this century.
On Biocultural Diversity brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the social and natural sciences as well as cultural advocates, human rights specialists, and indigenous experts to discuss the ways in which the losses of biological, linguistic, and cultural diversity are linked. Combining research with advocacy, this book outlines the threats to the world’s diversity, explores the connections among its various forms, and recommends measures to help preserve and perpetuate the variety of life on Earth. Presenting case studies from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas, the contributors show how the loss of linguistic and cultural diversity — often involving indigenous peoples’ removal from their lands, suppression of their languages, and the loss of traditional environmental knowledge based on subsistence practices — can affect biodiversity. The final chapters suggest new directions for research, documentation, training, and action in order to conserve biocultural diversity.
This collection reveals a broad picture of why diversity matters. It offers a common foundation and practical avenues for preserving the wealth of biological life as well as the cultural riches represented by indigenous and minority languages and the knowledge they embody.