Welcomed by weeds

I’ll be blogging more regularly as a part of my new post-doctoral position at the School of Geography at the University of Melbourne. The position is attached to the Useful Weeds project looking at Indigenous people’s perceptions and uses for invasive plants and environmental weeds around the Indian Ocean.

My first couple of blogs will be reflections from a recent holiday to Indonesia, which although intended to be time away from work, added a personal dimension to my understandings of plant-people-place relationships that are central to our research. Continue reading

We were recently on air!

by Priya Rangan

On Thursday 16 October, Tom and I were interviewed by Vanessa Mills, the radio program host of Mornings on ABC Kimberley. During the 15 minute interview, we chatted with Vanessa about our research project on indigenous cultural perspectives regarding unwanted plants in their landscapes. She was particularly interested in the team’s recent research visit to a field site in southern India, and in Tom’s doctoral research project on indigenous weed management with Aboriginal ranger groups in the West Kimberley.

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Floral battles: past and present

by Priya Rangan

As children growing up in Dehra Dun several decades before it became the capital of the state of Uttarakhand in the western Indian Himalayas, we spent a fair amount of time playing outdoors. It was a small town at the time, so there was plenty of outdoors, open space with some variety of vegetation, home gardens or, if you ventured a little further out, farm plots. Most afternoons, we’d spend time rushing about in the playground, and when tiring of it, wander along the canals and by-lanes in the neighbourhood, chattering away. Sometimes, as we walked along lanes lined with lantana hedges, we’d pluck a whole lot of flowers, pull the little florettes off the flower-heads and throw these at each other. As far as we knew, that’s what lantana was for, spontaneous floral confetti battles.

Seeing lantana in BRT Hills Reserve areas during our recent field visit brought back these childhood memories. Continue reading

Reflections on a visit to the Biligirirangan Hills, September 2014

by Pat Lowe

During our short visit to the BRT Hills, I was struck by similarities and differences between the lives and lot of Soliga and of Australian Aboriginal people in the Kimberley. I write in the awareness that I know almost nothing about the history, anthropology or sociology of the Soliga people. In what follows I draw simply on observations of my own and information provided by our host Nitin and guide, Madegowda. Continue reading

Trip report: lantana, people, and wildlife in southern India

Recently, several of the Trans-Plants collaborators met in Bangalore on a scoping trip for our “indigenous people and weeds” project.  We each took home different impressions from the trip and report on them here.  This first instalment is by Christian Kull

The thorny bush Lantana camara, with its attractive pink, yellow, and orange flowerlets, covers vast areas of forest understory, fallow lands, and hedges in the hilly mountains fringing the southern end of Karnataka state, India. These upland areas are also home to several marginalized cultural groups (‘scheduled tribes’, or ‘indigenous people’) as well as a diversity of wildlife – elephants, tigers, bears, gaur, three kinds of deer, monkeys, boars, wild dogs, leopards. On our recent scoping trip to the Biligiri Ranganaswamy Hills some four hour south of Bangalore, we discovered that there were at least three ways one could talk about the lantana situation, each following familiar tropes: as a story of invasion, of dispossession, or of creative redemption.

Spotted deer (chital) surrounded by lantana

Spotted deer (chital) surrounded by lantana

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