The Cultural Relations of Classification

An Analysis of Nuaulu Animal Categories from Central Seram

The Cultural Relations of Classification

Roy Ellen has studied the Nuaulu people of eastern Indonesia for more than twenty years. He is a major figure in ethnobiology, the branch of anthropology that examines the social and cultural transformation of biological knowledge. The present study looks at the Nuaulu classificatory system of animal knowledge: the relationship between animal words and animal categories, how these categories are constructed, and the language of classification. The author relies on rich and fascinating data to show that all classifications reflect an interaction among culture, cognitive processes, and the material world.

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