Traditional Knowledge and Biocultural Heritage about Medicinal Plants in a European Transboundary Area (La Raya : Extremadura, Spain-Alentejo, Portugal): Transdisciplinary Research for Curriculum Design in Health Sciences

Dídac Santos-Fita, J.R. Vallejo, G.C.S. Baptista, Helena Arco, J.A. González, S. Postigo-Mota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Traditional knowledge about medicinal plants, and the biocultural heritage derived from them, can be a useful tool for curricular design in health sciences. Research on this topic oriented toward university students has an interesting potential from a multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary treatment. This field allows for establishing relationships between socioeconomic and environmental problems and the health and well-being of people from the perspective of the intangible heritage of rural communities. On the other hand, traditional knowledge draws from very diverse sources such as empirical, magical, and religious components, primitive medicines, and even from academic medicine itself when it ceases to be scientific. Methodological triangulation is used in terms of data (times, spaces, and people), as well as researchers from different areas of knowledge integrating approaches with an interpretive purpose. Located in a European transboundary territory, the study area contains the mountain ranges of Alor (Spain) and São Mamede (Portugal), two cross-border areas where key informants have been interviewed. The observation unit is people who perform traditional practices to gather natural products, and other randomly selected informants. The study was completed with information collected from the undergraduates of the Escola Superior de Saúde de Portalegre (Portugal). The purpose of this work was to highlight the application of traditional knowledge based on medicinal plants in university studies of health sciences. Based on the results obtained and an epistemological discussion, we propose an educational intervention to broaden the professional mindset from a biocultural perspective. Our proposal directs the student’s gaze toward the investigation of medical history and biocultural heritage to understand the determinants of health and to respect the idiosyncrasies of their communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-258
Number of pages34
JournalHeritage
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Ethnomedicine
  • Cultural history
  • Philosophy of science
  • Culture of care
  • Education in health sciences
  • History of science
  • History of Science

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