“Tribal Medicinal Knowledge in Kerala- Practices and Challenges” by Deepa VK

This talk will be mainly focusing on the medicinal practices and challenges of the heterogenous tribal communities in Kerala. It will be based on the field experience I have among the tribal communities in Wayanad district of Kerala and the present study I am doing among the tribal communities in various parts of Kerala. The recent growth in demand and popularity of traditional, plant based, medicine has been  accompanied by controversies surrounding irregularity in supply of raw material, and fluctuations in its quality, along with, of course, issues on intellectual property rights and benefit sharing. What lies behind these emerging concerns of quality and availability is the changes in forest policies of many countries. In this context, this talk will concentrate on the consequences of the changes in property rights that these policies have brought about far-reaching adverse implications for sustenance of this body of knowledge and its distribution in the community, which, in turn, affects the quality and availability of raw materials used in medicinal practice.  In the present study, I mainly focus on the documentation of the ‘life’ of the tribal healers which also includes the women tribal healers.  On the basis of the literatures covered, the talk highlights the medicinal practices that are involved both for the physical and mental illness, the associated belief, cultural practices, their relationship with the land and the forest they live, their day to day interactions with the environment and the main challenges they are facing today. The talk will also give a brief idea about the plan of my field work.

Abstract Excerpt from “NIAS Wednesday Discussion” held on 15 May 2019, by Deepa VK