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ethnoscience(s)(SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY) the study of the indigenous bodies of knowledge within a culture area. Thus, ethnobotany records local botanical knowledge and plant taxonomies, and ethnoecology records local knowledge of ecological factors; while ethnohistory, which possesses similarities with ‘history from below’ (see HISTORY WORKSHOP JOURNAL), seeks to provide an historical account from the point of view of the society under discussion, using the oral historical record within the community. In general, the prefix ethno- used in this context refers to an analysis from the point of view of the ‘folk’ culture(s) being studied.
The ethnosciences are now seen as having some value in achieving ecologically sensitive forms of development, and forms of development also in tune with local needs. The recovery of‘lost’ knowledge that the ethnosciences represent also raises questions about the progressive nature of orthodox SCIENCE and about RATIONALITY. See also MULTICULTURALISM, COGNITIVE ANTHROPOLOGY. Compare ETHNOGRAPHY, ETHNOMETHODOLOGY.