Maize: The native north american's legacy of cultural diversity and biodiversity [Book Review]

Recent research has focused on establishing the values of preserving biodiversity both in agriculture and in less managed ecosystems, and in showing the importance of the role of cultural diversity in preserving biodiversity in food production systems. A study of the philosophy embedded in cultural systems can reveal the importance of the technological information for preserving genetic biodiversity contained in such systems and can be used to support arguments for the protection/preservation of cultural diversity. For example, corn or maize can serve as a paradigm of Native American thinking and can provide one of the few areas from which common philosophical conceptions can emerge. An examination of the cultivation of corn or maize as an agricultural activity and as a cultural activity in Native American literature reveals a philosophy that recognizes the importance of biodiversity and provides techniques for its preservation. Corn, and the food and the materials derived from it, is something thought out, not by specialists, but by the entire tribe and its ancestors, even if this thinking is done within what we might consider a framework of highly mythical notions. Importantly, this framework yields an understanding of both the genetics and nutrition of corn. A survey of these mythical notions (myths and stories) and agricultural practices makes this thought explicit and exemplifies the value of cultural diversity and biodiversity.
Keywords agriculture  biodiversity  corn  cultural diversity  gender relations  maize  native North Americans
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-005-0635-1
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David Heyd (2010). Cultural Diversity and Biodiversity: A Tempting Analogy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 13 (1):159-179.

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