Interview with Ethnobiologist, Catherine (Kay) Fowler
At the 2008 SoE Annual meetings in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Dana Lepofsky, then President of the Society, interviewed Kay about her long and successful career as an ethnobiologist. Kay describes how she got her start in ethnobiology some 50 years ago with her work with the hunter-gatherers of the Great Basin -- before there was a sub-discipline of "ethnobiology". As an undergraduate student, Kay recognized the importance of a solid training in both ecology and linguistics. This training enabled her to work with traditional ecological experts and to accurately document their knowledge. Kay discusses the deep and lasting connections she has with the communities with whom she has worked. Many of these communities are using her carefully collected field notes today to relearn the lost aspects of their traditional culture. Kay highlights the importance of ethnobiological field research today, for helping indigenous people reconnect with their heritage and manage their traditional lands. Of her field work, she remarks that the most important lesson learned is that you should "shut [your] mouth and just watch and listen and you're going to learn a lot".
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