Proceedings of the 20 th International Ethnological Food Research Conference, Department of Folklore and Ethnology, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Łodź, Poland, 3–6 September 2014
Mushrooms: Polish Traditions and Modern Practices. Online Examples: Aleksandra Krupa-Ławrynowicz
Mushrooms: Polish Traditions and Modern Practices. Online Examples
Between Botany and Cultural Anthropology
For many years, mushrooms have fascinated not only biologists and those who have discovered and appreciated their culinary qualities, but also cultural anthropologists and ethnologists who have recognised the significance of mushrooms in cultural systems, traditions and customs. Therefore, reflections on mushrooms are often located on the borderline between the natural sciences and the humanities, fitting into the broadly discussed nature–culture opposition. An interdisciplinary field concerned with studies of interactions between the natural and human worlds, between plants and people, is called ethnobotany (cf. Martin, 2004; Łuczaj 2013, pp. 9-15).
The multifaceted interest in mushrooms, which originated in the 1960s, gave rise to a narrower discipline in its own right – ethnomycology. Thanks to the work of Robert Gordon Wasson and his wife Valentina Pavlovna in the 1950s and 1960s, mushrooms became an object of thorough anthropological research (cf. Wasson / Wasson 1957; Wasson 1968). The results of their investigations, based on an immense amount of comparative material derived from many regions of the world, encouraged many scholars, including ethnologists, to take up research on this subject. Apart from the Wassons’ studies, which aimed at determining the role of mushrooms in various ritual and mythological systems, a significant research direction resulted from the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss, which handled, among other matters, the issue of identifying the place occupied by mushrooms in various codes, including...
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