Ethnobotany of divided generations in the context of centralization


Understanding the logics of obtaining, managing and perceiving of local natural resources, particularly plants, is crucial for ensuring sustainability of human life, as the use of plants is a key for survival of humans.

DiGe aims to create an advanced understanding of the mechanisms of changes in ethnobotanical knowledge experienced by traditional societies/minor ethnic groups when dominating group try to unify and/or erode this practical knowledge. It will also evaluate the effects of the sudden cease to existence of such centralization and following impact of the trial of revival of discontinued traditional etnobotanical knowledge.

Research will observe the effect of several social and cultural factors on the evolution of ethnobotanical knowledge of four compact, but divided ethnic minorities that had experienced for shorter (25 years) or longer (70 years) period different influences affecting their plant use and very different social conditions (including welfare and economy).

As a long-term outcome is possibility to predict the extent and depth of the changes occurring in the ethnobotanical knowledge and as a applied outcome learn to direct and educate people in the way that the knowledge necessary for sustainable maintenance and utilization of local plant resources will be constantly evolving in the way supporting health and well-being of different populations.

Project identity through our logo

The project has its own logo which symbolizes the goal of the research team. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Embracing the heritage of the wounded ground of Divided Generations, the DiGe team builds and grows a body of research around local communities, their traditions and their relationship with nature and plants. This knowledge allows us to reconnect countries and territories previously divided by borders. Here the trees are a symbol of the relationship between humans and nature through local ecological knowledge, which branches out to reaffirm and revive the "oneness" of this culture.

Credit for the logo design goes to Cristina Flora. 



  • Sõukand, R., Kalle, R., Fontefrancesco, M. F., and  Pieroni, A. (2021). Building a safety buffer for European food security: the role of small-scale food production and local ecological and gastronomic knowledge in light of COVID-19. 1:10 https://doi.org/10.12688/openreseurope.13138.1
  • Belichenko, O., Kolosova, V., Melnikov, D., Kalle, R., Sõukand, R. 2021. Language of Administration as a Border: Wild Food Plants Used by Setos and Russians in Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, NW Russia. Foods, 8;10(2):367. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020367.
  • Stryamets, N., Fontefrancesco, M.F., Mattalia, G., Prakofjewa, J., Pieroni, A., Kalle, R., Stryamets, G., Sõukand, R. 2021. Just beautiful green herbs: use of plants in cultural practices in Bukovina and Roztochya, Western Ukraine. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine, 17, 12. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-021-00439-y 
  • Stryamets, N., Mattalia, G., Pieroni, A., Khomyn, I., Sõukand, R. (2021). Dining Tables Divided by a Border: The Effect of Socio-Political Scenarios on Local Ecological Knowledge of Romanians Living in Ukrainian and Romanian Bukovina. Foods, 10(1), 126. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10010126.
  • Kalle, R. and Sõukand, R. (2020). The name to remember: Flexibility and contextuality of preliterate folk plant categorization from the 1830s, in Pernau, Livonia, historical region on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 264, 113254. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2020.113254.
  • Mattalia, G., Stryamets, N., Grygorovych, A., Pieroni, A., & Sõukand, R. (2021). Borders as crossroads: the diverging routes of herbal knowledge of Romanians living on the Romanian and Ukrainian sides of Bukovina. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 11, 1839. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2020.598390.

Previous years


  • Kalle, R., Sõukand, R., & Pieroni, A. (2020). Devil Is in the Details: Use of Wild Food Plants in Historical Võromaa and Setomaa, Present-Day Estonia. Foods, 9(5), 570. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9050570 
  • Prakofjewa, J., Kalle, R., Belichenko, O., Kolosova, V., & Soukand, R. (2020). Re-written narrative: transformation of the image of Ivan-chaj in Eastern Europe. Heliyon, 6(8), e04632. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e04632
  • Kolosova, V., Belichenko, O., Rodionova, A., Melnikov, D., & Sõukand, R. (2020). Foraging in Boreal Forest: Wild Food Plants of the Republic of Karelia, NW Russia. Foods, 9(8), 1015. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9081015
  • Mattalia, G., Stryamets, N., Pieroni, A., Sõukand, R. (2020). Knowledge transmission patterns at the border: ethnobotany of Hutsuls living in the Carpathian Mountains of Bukovina (SW Ukraine and NE Romania). J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine, 16(41). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00391-3
  • Prūse, B., Kalle, R., Buffa, G., Simanova, A., Mežaka, I., Sõukand, R. (2020). We need to appreciate common synanthropic plants before they become rare: Case study in Latgale (Latvia). Ethnobiology and Conservation, 10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15451/ec2020-12-10.11-1-26 
  • Sõukand, R., Stryamets, N., Fontefrancesco, M.F., Pieroni, A. (2020). The importance of tolerating interstices: Babushka markets in Ukraine and Eastern Europe and their role in maintaining local food knowledge and diversity. Heliyon, 6(1), e03222. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03222 
  • Sõukand, R., Mattalia, G., Kolosova, V., Stryamets, N., Prakofjewa, J., Belichenko, O., Kuznetsova, N., Minuzzi, S., Keedus, L., Prūse, B., Simanova, A., and Kalle, R. (2020). Inventing a herbal tradition: The complex roots of the current popularity of Epilobium angustifolium in Eastern Europe. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 247, 112254. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.112254
  • Kalle, R., Belichenko, O., Kuznetsova, N., Kolosova, V., Prakofjewa, J., Stryamets, N., Mattalia, G., Šarka, P., Simanova, A., Pruse, B., Mežaka, I., Soukand, R. (2020). Gaining momentum: popularization of Epilobium angustifolium as food and recreational tea on the Eastern edge of Europe. Appetite, 150, 104638. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104638   
  • Pieroni, A., Vandebroek, I., Prakofjewa, J., Bussmann, R. W., Paniagua-Zambrana, N. Y., Maroyi, A., ... & Sõukand, R. (2020). Taming the pandemic? The importance of homemade plant-based foods and beverages as community responses to COVID-19. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine, 16, 75. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00426-9 



5 – 6 October 2020. Global Mountain Sustainability Forum, Italy

“The forest is our gold”: perception of forests and resource use among Hutsuls living in the Ukrainian and Romanian Carpathian Mountains. Giulia Mattalia Nataliya Stryamets, Gábor Molnár, Adrian Gliga, Ágnes Balázsi, Andrea Pieroni, Renata Sõukand, Victoria Reyes-García

Abstract: Culture plays a major role in shaping how people perceive the surrounding environment, while perception is an important determinant of the use of local resources. The use of local resources by mountain communities is especially interesting in areas characterized by high biodiversity such as the Carpathian Mountains. On the highlands of the Romanian and Ukrainian Carpathians, live the ethnolinguistic minority of Hutsuls, who have a long history of adaptation to the harsh mountain environment. Indeed, Hutsuls heavily rely on forest resources, extracting timber and, using several non-wood forest products such as berries, mushrooms, herbs for food and medicinal preparations. The main objective of this study was to compare the perceptions of the forest and the use of forest resources among Hutsuls living on each side of the Bukovinian border to discuss the role that the border may have played in shaping perceptions and use of its resources. The use of forest resources recorded in a previous study as well as the 29 interviews gathered among Hutsuls in summer 2019 showed that Hutsuls in the Ukrainian and Romanian Bukovina share a similar perception of the forest, yet made significantly divergent use of forest resources. For instance, both the Hutsul communities reported overexploitation of the forest resources including timber (mainly in Romania) and forest berries (mainly in Ukraine). Yet, among the Ukrainian Hutsuls forest medicinal plants played a more relevant role than among the Romanian Hutsuls. Indeed, in the Romanian Bukovina, the use of forest resources was more balanced as other sources of income were available and viable. Such divergences of forest resources use may have their roots in the way the two communities were affected by different social, economic, and political backgrounds since the creation of the border which, in 1940, split Bukovina into the Soviet Union and Romania. Multidisciplinary and cross-border research is a crucial tool to capture the diversity of the contributions of forests to local communities with the aim to promote local community empowerment through their own tangible and intangible resources. Further research should address how transboundary cooperation could valorize the great biocultural diversity of the Carpathians.

28-30 September, 2020. IUFRO WG 5.10.00 & Scandinavian Society of Forest Economics (SSFE), Online Conference.

Security vs recreation: forest products for livelihoods in Ukraine and Romania. Stryamets Nataliya*, Mattalia Giulia*, Khomyn Ihor, Sõukand Renata*. 

* Ca’Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Abstract: Social demand for forest products and services especially from mountain forests is growing, putting pressure on maintaining the forest ecosystems. The use of forest resources for local livelihoods strategies has a different purpose, e.g. forest reliance is the use of forest products as economic insurance and poverty reduction. Aim of the study is to analyze the importance of contemporary use of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) for daily livelihoods in rural areas in the Carpathian Mountains comparing two ethnic groups Hutsuls and Romanians living in same natural conditions, having been once one historical region of Bukovina, but currently situating in different countries. We made 127 semi-structured face to face interviews in Romania and Ukraine, focusing on use of wild food, medicine and cultural practices. Our results demonstrate the difference in the number of plants used for food (50 species in Ukraine and 39 in Romania) mushrooms for food (23 and 13 species of mushrooms) and plants for medicine ( 101 and 88 species respectively). Livelihood strategies of rural forest-dependent communities in Ukraine and Romania include the current use of NWFPs. Rural residents in both areas of Bukovina use wild plants and mushrooms to supplement their diets, meet their medicinal needs and household income, and for cultural practices and ceremonies. In Ukrainian case studies, respondents explained that wild products have economic insurance and have poverty reduction functions, especially in remote mountain villages. However, in Romania, the NWFPs collection were valued more for recreational and cultural aspects. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement No 714874). 

Scandinavian Forest Economics n. 49

15 - 17 September, 2020. The 8th World Sustainability Forum (virtual), Switzerland

Wild food for food security? Cases from Bukovina Romania and Ukraine. Nataliya Stryamets, Giulia Mattalia, Renata Sõukand. 

Abstract: Biocultural diversity of border areas is high, and requires research. Bukovina is a historic province divided by Ukrainian-Romanian border into halves, inhabited by Romanians and Ukrainians on both sides. The aim of the study is to document the current use of wild taxa for food by one ethic group, living in the same ecological conditions, historically belonging to one province and then to compare the uses within the countries but with other ethnic groups. 60 semi-structured interviews with local rural residents were performed with the aim to study the use of wild plants for food purposes. We record contemporary use of 45 taxa (plus 5 cultivated with uncommon use) belonging to 20 families for food consumption. Romanians in Romanian Bukovina use 32 taxa belonging to 15 families and in Ukraine 43 taxa belonging to 18 families.Food preparation modes like jams, sarmale and socata are more used by Romanians in Southern Bukovina, while the tea, soups and birch sap in Northern Bukovina. Our results show that wild food still plays an important role for everyday cuisine. The most used taxa by Romanians in Ukraine were Rubus idaeus, Urtica dioica, Rubus spp., Armoracia rusticana, Tussilago farfara, Fragaria vesca. Most used taxa by Romanians in Southern Bukovina were Rubus idaeus, Vaccinium myrtillus, Armoracia rusticana, Rubus spp., Atriplex hortensis, Fagus sylvatica, Fragaria vesca. Jaccard index is 50 so the groups’ uses of wild plants for food are different, living in the same conditions, being the same ethic group, the group use the wild plant for food is quite different. The use of wild food for food security (e.g. winter preserves) were more popular in Ukrainian Bukovina, while deserts (e.g. sweet jams and compotes) in Romanian Bukovina. The socio-economic scenarios of the two countries are influencing the use of wild plants for food.

26–28 February 2020, St Petersburg, Russia. Russian Ethnographical Museum. The 8th Sjögren Readings. "North-West: Ethno-Confessional History and Historical-Cultural Landscape".

Karelian Banya in Ethnobotanical Context. Valeria Kolosova. Abstract: The report concerns using plants by people in Karelia in connection with banya. The data were collected during the field work in the framework of the project “Ethnobotany of Separated Generations in the Context of Centralization” in 2018 and 2019. A special “banya questionnaire” was used for conducting interviews. The following plant functions were identified: building material, firewood, washing utensils, material for banya brooms, as well as the use for washing and cosmetic purposes. Most respondents prefer to build banya of pine wood while inner parts and most utensils were made of aspen. As caulking material, moss is used. The preferred type of firewood is birch, as well as banya brooms, with specific rules of preparing them; still, a number of other plants are used for banya brooms, both for healing (juniper, nettle) and for pleasure (oak, willow herb, eucalyptus, spiraea). The paper also concerns solutions, decoctions and infusions of plants used for pouring onto stove, washing body and hair, dying hair, skin care, as well as preferred drinks after banya. The interview materials demonstrate that using banya in Karelian culture is very sustainable, and changes are minimal.


Past conferences


21–22 November 2019, Sofia, Bulgaria Plant Diversity Towards Society 2019 - International Scientific Conference Plant Diversity: sociocultural dimensions and interdisciplinary projections

Abstract: Karelian Folk Medicine: Potentilla Erecta (L.) Rauesch. Valeria Kolosova.
The paper is based on the field materials collected in the summer of 2018 in the Republic of Karelia, Russian Federation. Most respondents mentioned the root of the plant called in Russain калган ‘(common) tormentil Potentilla erecta (L.) Raeusch’ as a widely-used medicine. The paper contains analysis of field data about Potentilla erecta. The respondents mentioned it as a remedy for a wide variety of diseases: diarrhea and stomach disorders in general, radiculitis, pain in joints, skin problems, and even dysentery and staphylococcus. They also described details of collecting, preparing, and storage of the plant, as well as the peculiarities of its use for adult patients and for children. Another sphere of plant use is folk veterinary. It is especially interesting that among the users of the plant there are professional medical workers who both use it themselves and advise to their patients. Many of our respondents spent their early years in remote villages, where state medicine and veterinary were not easily accessible, and medicinal plants played an important role in maintaining health. Still, many people continued to use medicinal herbs during the Soviet period and have been doing it nowadays. The reason may lay in the habit to rely mostly on one’s own resources as well as in the abrupt decrease of the medical care availability after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the supporting role of the modern turn to natural remedies as a part of bio- and eco- life style.


24–25 October 2019, Petrozavodsk, Russia. International Scientific and Practical Conference "Indigenous Peoples of Karelia: History and Modernity"

Using plants by Karelians and Russians of Karelia: Past and Present. Valeria Kolosova
Abstract: The report concerns the relations of people in Karelia with the plant world. The data were collected during the field work in the framework of the project “Ethnobotany of Separated Generations in the Context of Centralization” in 2018 and 2019. The interaction between various actors – the local population, state institutions, private entrepreneurs – based on the use of wild plants in cooking, traditional medicine, veterinary medicine, cosmetics, crafts, and other areas of life, is considered. The list of plants used is determined, as well as the role of each of them in the region. The statistical approach allowed identifying the most significant (pine, cowberry) and peripheral (wild rosemary, oak) plants, the ones with narrow use (common tormentil, plantain, willow) and with a wide range of applications (birch, nettle), etc. There are “statistical disturbances” caused by enthusiasts searching for information about plants in the reference literature, actively using them in their practice and sharing knowledge in their circle of friends, or producing plant products for sale. Special attention is paid to changes having occurred in the assortment of plants and their use (methods of processing and storage of products, insecticidal treatment of homes and clothes, treatment of livestock, etc.) from the 1930ies to date. Recently, the use of such exotic plants for Karelia as eucalyptus, moringa, and others has been noted. The most resistant to changes turned out to be such spheres as the ritual use of plants in calendar rites, the banya procedure; most subject to changes are folk veterinary medicine, cosmetics, tea substitutes. Traditional medicine is a complex structure in which some plants have retained their function, while others have changed it over time; a number of plants is for many diseases; others are called extremely rarely. In conclusion, the opinions of informants about changes in the ecology of the region, their impact on the plant world and everyday life of the population of the republic are given.


16-19 October 2019, Recife, Brazil - VII International Congress of Ethnobotany and I ICEZO International Congress of ethnozoology

Oral presentation. Stryamets N., Mattalia G., Prokofyeva Y., Khomyn I., Sõukand R. Resistance of rituals: use of wild plants in cultural practices in case studies in Ukraine and Lithuania. Book of abstracts, VII International Congress of Ethnobotany and I ICEZO International Congress of ethnozoology, 16-19 October 2019, Recife, Brazil, p. 163


29 September - 5 October 2019, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil - XXV IUFRO World Congress

Attended 3000 participants
Oral presentation: Non-timber forest products as cultural ecosystem services: A case study from the Western Ukraine. Stryamets Nataliya, Mattalia Giulia, Soukand, Renata.
Short oral presentation
Shift in the use of forest and consequences on traditional ecological knowledge among Hutsuls in the Carpathians, Western Ukraine. Mattalia Giulia, Stryamets Nataliya, Soukand, Renata.


2-4 September 2019, Lviv, Ukraine - Temperate and boreal primeval forests in the face of global change

Attended 130 participants
Oral presentation: Stryamets N., Mattalia G., Sõukand R., Stryamets, S. Beech forests for livelihoods: cases from Western Ukraine. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, 2019: Temperate and boreal primeval forests in the face of global change Conference, 2-4 September 2019, Lviv (Ukraine). Birmensdorf, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, 139 pp.

Temperate and boreal primeval forests in the face of global change [PDF]

2–6 June, 2019 Kazanj, Russia. XIII Congress of Anthropologists and Ethnologists of Russia

Digital ethnobotany": computer programs in ethnobotanical researches. Valeria Kolosova, Olga Belichenko, Kira Kovalenko Abstract: The report discusses software products used in ethnobotanical studies at different stages. An overview of the programs used in the project DiGe - Ethnobotany of divided generations in the context of centralization (Ca’ Foscari University, Venice) is given. At the stage of decoding the interviews, the F4 program is used, which allows managing the audio recording and the text file simultaneously without switching between windows, setting the time of the recorded segments automatically, etc. The transcribed materials are entered into the Excel program with information about the informant and the plant being described. Then, data is processed by the ANTHROPAC program, which is designed to analyze cultural domain data. It allows analysing structured qualitative and quantitative data, conducting paired comparisons, building ratings, etc. At the stage of writing scientific articles, the Mendeley program is used, which allows searching by authors and keywords within the texts of articles, as well as automating the compilation of a bibliography, making it in accordance with the requirements of various scientific journals. Similar functions can be performed by Zotero. http://iea-ras.ru/index.php?go=Ethno&in=view&id=112 

4 June 2019, Cincinnati, OH, USA - The future of forests: perspectives from indigenous people, traditional practices and conservation

Guilia Mattalia attended, 150 participants, organized by the Society for Economic Botany

Abstract: The emotional tie to the forest: contrasting perspectives from Carpathians mountains (SW Ukraine) and Apennines mountains (Central Italy). Giulia Mattalia, Nataliya Stryamets, Andrea Pieroni, Renata Soukand. In many mountain areas of Europe, lives of local dwellers and forests have been deeply interweaved for centuries. For long time, local inhabitants of Hutsulshchyna (SW Ukraine) and Casentino (Central Italy) had been working in forest-related activities. However, economic and social shifts occurred in both areas in the XX century caused a sudden abandonment of these forestry activities. This led to a strong depopulation of both the studied rural areas. In this study, we aimed at discussing the current perceptions and legacy toward the forest of both Ukrainian and Italian local communities. Specifically, we studied the current and past uses of wild plant and mushroom taxa gathered in the forest to analyse the perception of the ecological consequences of such economic and ecologic shifts. Between 2017 and 2018, we gathered respectively 30 and 45 interviews in Casentino and Hutsulshchyna.  The semi-structured interviews pointed out different aptitudes. The Ukrainian communities recognized the unicity of their local ecological practices regarding forest management and highlighted their emotional tie and deep identification between themselves and the forest that provided economic valuable products such as Vaccinium myrtillus and Boletus edulis. This occurs despite abrupt socio-ecological changes including abandonment of pastoral activity and deforestation. Conversely, inhabitants of the Casentino forests, showed relevant emotional distance to the forest, mainly due to the bureaucracy caused by the institution of a national park in 1993 and the full abandonment of traditional forest-related activities. These factors contributed to creating a deep gap between forest and local communities that feel overwhelmed by conservation measures and complain the overgrowing of the forest and the disappearance of undergrowth berries such as Rubus ideaus and Fragaria vesca.  We discuss that these different aptitudes are crucial to develop local strategies for achieving overall ecological, economic and social sustainability to preserve the whole ecosystem. This project has received funding from ERC, grant agreement No 714874 and PRIN 2015P8524C.

29 May – 2 June 2019,  Renmin University of China, Beijing, China  - The Nature of Health, the Health of Nature: Perspectives from History and the Humanities

Cosponsored by the Rachel Carson Center, Munich, and the Center for Ecological History, Renmin University of China, Beijing. Number of participants – 61.

Abstract: Perceptions of health and medications on the border: crossing barriers, transferring contents. Julia Prakofjewa. Nowadays borders are not only physical or mental barriers but often also opportunities. It produces various forms of people interactions, relations and activities across them which would not exist without the border. In this context, the modern Belarusian-Lithuanian borderland is an interesting case study of the perceptions of health and medications after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the completely different political, social, educational, medical systems. Reflecting on 162 semi-structured interviews with local residents, collected in Hrodna region (Belarus) and Vilnius region (Lithuania) in June - August 2018, I discussed the local health practices and use of healthcare services among the Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians and Russians living on the borderland. I examined perceptions of current health interventions, accessibility to health care, prioritisation of health problems, and their perceptions regarding the national health systems. The results revealed the gross importance of self-medication and especially significant role played by plants in the health care systems of the inhabitants in the borderland region, which is relatively distant from academic health. An important element reinforcing self-medication and especially the use of plants is the popular literature, which easily penetrates the borders, providing thus a potent external influence that may, or more often may not correspond to local environmental conditions.

The nature of health, the health of nature: Perspectives from History and the Humanities [PDF]

6-7 May 2019, Paris, France - Indigenous and local knowledge dialogue workshop for the IPBES assessment on sustainable use of wild species workshop Paris

35 experts from all over the globe discussed the question concerning the use of wild species by local communities. Nataliya Stryamets took part in round tables discussion and workshop.


28 April – 4 May 2019, Gülnar, Mersin, Turkey - Land-sparing vs. land-sharing for functional green infrastructure that sustains biodiversity and ecosystem services? – European landscape approach initiatives provide regionally adapted solutions

16 Participants from 7 countries were describing their study sites and the activities within their project connected to natural resource uses. Nataliya Stryamets was presenting Ukrainian part of the Bukovina area and the ethnobotanical uses of wild plants within the region.
Abstract: Ethnobotany of Ukrainian and Romanian Border. Nataliya Stryamets. Forests provide a diversity of tangible and intangible benefits for sustaining local rural livelihoods. The analysis of the intangible benefits provided by forest landscapes have been highlighted as significant research question recently. Within the framework of intimate human-nature interaction, the aim of our research was to analyze the role of non-wood forest products (NWFPs) as cultural and provisioning ecosystem services for rural residents in the Western Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania. We conducted seventy-two in-depth semi-structured interviews with local rural residents during summer 2018 in Bukovina region in Ukraine to understand the role of forest resources as cultural and provisioning ecosystem services, focusing on spiritual uses of different wild and semi-domesticated plant taxa. We conclude that the role of NTFPs as cultural and provisioning ecosystem services for local livelihoods is crucial. This research was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (grant agreement No 714874).


13 March 2019, University of Gastronomic Sciences, Pollenzo, Italy - UNISG 2019 Research Day

Abstract: Research and Narrative of Local Gastronomic Knowledge. Renata Soukand. Until recently, a narrative has been perceived as storytelling that, before the development of writing, was the only way of communicating events from one generation to the next. Although mainly regarded as an exclusive research subject of cultural studies, it is now entering other spheres of research and education. Inspired by the idea of narrative economics proposed by Nobel Laureate Robert J. Shiller in 2017, and relying on the first research results of our ethnobotanical project funded by the European Research Council (ERC grant agreement No 714874), I discuss the various types of narrative currently influencing research on Local Gastronomic Knowledge (LGK). In the light of the success of the Slow Food movement and the enthusiasm of young environmental activists inspired by Greta Thunberg, there is a hope that academia as a research institution has the power to create and “implant” the “great narrative” that supports the importance of LGK as a means of sustainability. If properly harmonized with the personal narratives of individuals, it has the potential to eventually change the ways people think and act, which may give us, as well as many other species, a greater chance of survival

Research and Narrative of Local Gastronomic Knowledge [PDF]

1-5 April 2019, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. UAS Spring Campus - The Future is Now: Driving Sustainable Development

Olga Belichenko presentation title: “The invention of organic: rosebay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium) in Post-Soviet Russian culture”. 



21-22 September 2018, Turin, Italy. Diffused University Project by the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo – Terra Madre.

Participation in round tables and workshops. Partisipants from the group: Renata Soukand, Giulia Mattalia, Olga Belichenko, Natalia Kuznetsova, Julia Prakofjewa, Valeria Kolosova.


Public events

1 April 2021 - Participation in Black Boxing session organized by Adtac

Black Boxing

False History: The Reimagining of Ivan-Chaj Tea

As part of Weekly Adtac Black Boxing event a presentation from Renata Sõukand and Julia Prakofjewa from the University of Venice was given on a concerted disinformation campaign to rewrite the history of Ivan-Chaj tea in several Eastern European countries.

27 November 2020. Venetonight Researchers' Night, Italy

Back To The Roots: Ethnobotany of Divided Generations. Renata Soukand, Julia Prakofjewa, Giulia Mattalia.

Venetonight 2020


12 May 2021 - Beyond data: peer-to-peer learning

The workshop team foresees the Conference of the Society of Ethnobiology as the perfect platform to bring discussion on how to go beyond the recommendations mentioned in the academic study to implementation particularly while discussing local ecological knowledge (e.g. LEK and water&food security). Several examples exist where researchers propose future research and/or propose the need for developing actions. Thus this workshop aims to serve as a peer-to-peer learning and working ground where participants bring their study and share success stories/strategies used on how their academic advice was brought into policy/action/art and/or list challenges experienced and/or requests advice from the peers on the steps to be taken. The workshop will use the approach of Science Cafe and CLIPS tools with emphasis on open discussion. Prior to the workshop the participants will be requested to propose academic studies they would like to be discussed during the workshop. The discussion of the workshop will be compiled in a report with a potential for publishing.
Link to Case Study Submission 

More information: see this webpage, the Society of ethnobiology site or ask Baiba ( baiba.pruse@unive.it). 

28 - 29 April 2021 - Biological and Cultural Diversity in the Context of European Vulnerable Ecosystems

This two-day international workshop aims to discuss different aspects of the human-nature interaction in the contextofEuropeanvulnerableecosystems.Particularly, it would address the crucial importance of biological and cultural diversity for the sustainability and resilience of our European wetlands and mountain areas in several countries of Western and Eastern Europe. Several scholars will present their current research and together we will discuss the importance of a holistic perspective in ecosystem management. Indeed, we will bring together knowledge from different disciplines including environmental sciences, biology, anthropology, and ecology. Scholars at any stage of their careers and graduate students are welcome to join this workshop to discuss together the importance of a holistic perspective in managing fragile ecosystems across Europe. We will exchange experiences and know-how, and virtually visit some hidden natural pearls of the Venice Lagoon and the Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park with their heads of research. Scientific organizing committee: Olga Belichenko, Marco Calvi, Virginia Cazzagon, Mirko Liuzzo, Giulia Mattalia, Arianna Spada The workshop event is co-founded by the Institut Français and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice – Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics under the Bando Cassini agreement

Scholars and students are very welcome to join by registering here by April 23rd 2021.

More information: Giulia ( giulia.mattalia@unive.it)

file pdfPoster2.86 M

17 March 2021 - Dr Kolosova and Dr Stryamets present their work

On behalf of Prof. Renata Sõukand and rest of the DiGe project team, we welcome each and everyone to join the seminar as we will "travel" to the lands across Karelia, Ukraine and Romania. 
As part of the DiGe project two members of the team are going to present their work on 17ths of March (2021) at 10:30 CET - 12:00 CET.
Please, register online for the seminar.

Dr Valeria Kolosova will introduce us to: "Ethnobotany of Karelians and Russians in Karelia: Fieldwork and Ethnographic Data".
Dr Kolosova will talk about her experience during the expeditions to Karelian Republic in Russia, work in archives and libraries. She will especially underline the difference between the official point of view on medicinal and edible wild plants of the region and the local people's opinions and practices.

And Dr Nataliya Stryamets will introduce us to: "Ethnobotany of Bukovina: cases from Carpathian mountains in Ukraine and Romania". 
Dr Stryamets will talk about the ethnobotanical study she conducted among two ethnic groups, both divided by a border, discuss the influence of social-political scenarios on use of wild plants and mushrooms for various reasons e.g. food, medicine, ethnoveterinary and cultural etc. The results demonstrate both qualitative and quantitative differences in plant use among groups divided by the border.

The seminar will take place in zoom platform and the entrance link will be sent to the registered participants on 16ths of March.

For any questions please, come back to: Baiba Pruse ( baiba.pruse@unive.it) or Cristina Flora ( 857854@stud.unive.it).

file pdfPoster288 K

22 February 2021 - Co-Creating Sustainability: Integration of Local Ecological Knowledge in Art Works

On behalf of Prof. Renata Sõukand, Prof. Andrea Pieroni and workshop organizing team we welcome each and everyone to join a session as part of The Nature of Cities Festival about “Co-Creating Sustainability: Integration of Local Ecological Knowledge in Art Works” on 22nd of February.

The workshop team believes that in order to build cities for tomorrow Local practice and Art serves a great deal in such discussions. Based on the number of participants, the workshop members will be requested to work in groups and provide insights of where and how LEK appears in urban environments through art works and/or as integrated part in art works
The success of the workshop will very much depend on the case studies brought by the participants. 

For more information about the workshop, please see the poster attached.
To register to the Festival, click here 
And we would love to know more about the participants thus please fill this form

For more info, see here or ask  baiba.pruse@unive.it

24-25 February 2021 - Plant Food-Medicines

On behalf of Prof. Renata Sõukand and Prof. Andrea Pieroni, the DiGe team and members of COST Action ConservePlants Working Group 4 (CA18201) welcome each and every one to join two day workshop on Special Issue “Plant Food-Medicines: Perceptions, Traditional Uses and Health Benefits of Food Botanicals, Mushrooms, and Herbal Teas” on 24th (10:30 - 12:30 CET) and 25th (10:30 - 17:00 CET) of February. More about the workshop in the attached file.

Please, register and provide your research interest based on the workshop information here:  until 10th of February (2021) in order to receive the entrance link before the workshop and additional instructions.

For any questions please, come back to:

file pdfPoster1.78 M