Folk Food Webs and the Role of Praxis in Substantive Ecological Knowledge

Yancey Orr, Brian Hallmark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In the second half of the 20th century, investigations of indigenous environmental knowledge have been the subject of broader anthropological debates over how knowledge and experience are formed. Many such approaches have focused on environmental nomenclature and taxonomy, or what Roy Ellen has called "formal lexical knowledge" (1999). Such knowledge is readily available to an ethnographer and also more easily transmitted through language between subjects. These characteristics of formal lexical knowledge have led to considerable attention given to differences in environmental knowledge between cultures and have possibly resulted in the inflation of the efficacy of language in forming knowledge. However, if a different form of environmental knowledge is examined are there differences that emerge within communities and other processes beyond symbolic systems that shape knowledge? To address these questions, individuals in two Balinese agricultural communities were asked to construct food webs by linking photos of plant and animal species according to ecological interaction. The results showed significant variation in subjects' knowledge by gender, which corresponds to labor experience in Balinese wet rice agricultural systems. By shifting attention toward emic models of ecological interactions, this article attempts to demonstrate (1) that environmental knowledge differs within a single community; and, (2) the role of labor experience or praxis has in forming environmental knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-346
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Environmental knowledge
  • Ethnoecology
  • Labor
  • Praxis
  • Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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