What Women Know that Men do not about Chestnut Trees in Turkey: A Method of Hearing Muted Knowledge

Wall J. R. , AKSOY E. B. , Kose N. , Okan T. , Kose C.

JOURNAL OF ETHNOBIOLOGY, vol.38, no.1, pp.138-154, 2018 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 38 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.nefro.2017.11.009
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.138-154


Decades of ethnobotanical observations have shown that knowledge varies significantly according to the identity attributes of participants, such as their religion, occupation, status, income level, geographic origin, and gender. Ethnobiology shares the imperative of all social science disciplines in tailoring gender-responsive methodologies and operating epistemologies. Particularly, researcher identity, performance, and preference for kinds of knowledge may have significant consequences. Here, we present a study centered around an extra effort to engage women's knowledge of sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa) in Turkey. In Turkey's Black Sea, Marmara, and Aegean regions, we conducted 142 extended ethnobotanical interviews with chestnut-utilizing participants using three distinct protocols: gender-unaddressed, men-only, and women-only. Based on participant contributions, we developed and analyzed a dataset which accounted for total reported uses, chestnut material typologies, direct and indirect plant traits, as well as unique and cultural reports. We compared the findings from these distinct protocols using Correspondence Analysis and two-way Analysis of Variance. Our results show that the knowledge reported by women-only was significantly more diverse than knowledge reported under men-only and gender-unaddressed protocols. This significant difference was most readily attributed to the higher frequency of unique and cultural knowledge shared during women-only interviews. Also, considering the routinely mixed-gender conditions under the gender-unaddressed protocol, our findings suggest that male presence, in any form, can mute, or render inadmissible, women's ethnobotanical testimony. These findings challenge the community consensus model of ethnobotanical knowledge and field methodologies that do not account for in-field gender dynamics. In conclusion, we articulate a way to amplify insights from intersectionality theory using ethnobotanical approaches.