Research on local knowledge of plants is important to gain and conserve information about use and management of plant species in a specific region. Local knowledge is dynamic. Due to changing ecological, social and economical factors, socio-cultural practices and local knowledge do change over time. In this project, the influence of migration on the local knowledge of Tyrolean migrants in Peru, Brazil and Australia is studied. The Tyrolean migration to Peru (1859) and to Brazil (1933-1938) took place in groups, whereas the Tyroleans studied in Australia immigrated individually since the 1950s. Our research focuses on the local knowledge of plant usage in 1) cuisine, 2) medicine, 3) customs and festivities, and how this local knowledge has changed in the different places due to various factors. The project aims

  • to describe the local knowledge of Tyrolean emigrants about plant species used in cuisine, medicine, customs and festivities
  • to describe how the transmission and transformation of local knowledge proceed when people emigrate from their country of origin to a new environment. This includes knowledge exchanged between Emigrants themselves, and also between Emigrants and (local) people in the country of immigration.
  • to show the differences of local knowledge between the studied areas
  • to understand the variables intervening in the transmission and transformation of local knowledge



The project lasts from 11/2007 – 04/2010. The field research, conducted by three PhD students is carried out between 07-12/2008 and 07/2009-01/2010. The following methods are used.

  • Cultural Domain Analysis: Free Listing Interviews to detect the kinds of plant species used in cuisine, medicine, customs and festivities
  • Identification tasks for medical plants and food
  • Social Network Analysis: Visualization of Ego-Networks with interview partners to show sources of knowledge about the used plant species
  • Participant and non-participant Observation related to costumes and festivities, as well as activities regarding plant use
  • Documentation of the menus of local restaurants and bars, of plants sold in supermarkets, markets and pharmacies, as well as the documentation of plants cultivated in home gardens

Field sites

Project Team

Project Leader Christian Vogl Ruth Haselmair graduated from the University of Vienna, Austria in Cultural and Social Anthropology. In her undergraduate studies she focused on the regions of Latin America and post-communist Europe and on the following topics: Development Studies, Research Partnerships and Social Network Analysis. Her current research focus is on knowledge networks, transmission and transformation of local knowledge.

Elisabeth Kuhn graduated from the University of Vienna, Institute for Cultural- and Social Anthropology. In the project she is working as a PhD with a special focus on food and migration in Brazil.

Pirker Heidemarie graduated from  the University of Vienna, Austria. She holds a degree in Ecology. In the project she is focusing on the transmission and transformation of local knowledge of plants used in cuisine, medicine and customs/festivities by Tyrolean migrants in Australia.

Data about the project in BOKUs Research Data Base

Projekt Ökologischer Landbau

Im Sommersemester 2008 wurden in der Lehrveranstaltung "Projekt Ökologischer Landbau" die Beziehungen zwischen Österreich und Lateinamerika in Bezug auf Ökologische Landwirtschaft bearbeitet. Dieses Thema steht in Bezug zum oben beschreibenen Projekt (Dynamics of Local Knowledge), da es zum Thema Ökologische Landwirtschaft einen intensiven Austausch von Wissen zwischen Lateinamerika und Österreich gibt und sich ein Folgeprojekt zum oben genannten Projekt spezifisch mit diesem Wissenstransfer zu Ökologischer Landwirtschaft zwischen Österreich und Brasilien/Peru beschäftigen soll. Die Projektarbeit war eine Vorarbeit hierzu. Broschüre (3 MB; unkorrigierte Originalarbeit*) Poster (6 MB; unkorrigierte Originalarbeit*) Bericht (3 MB; unkorrigierte Originalarbeit*) * bei den Texten handelt es sich um die von den StudentInnen im Rahmen der Prüfungsleistung abgegebenen Arbeiten, die nach der Abgabe nicht weiter verändert oder korrigiert wurden.

Poster zum Projekt

"Knowledge of Tyrolean migrants about plant spacies - The transmission and transformation of knowledge of Tyrolean migrants and their descendants in Australia, Brazil and Peru"- Poster "Knowledge of farmers in Tyrol about traditional crops and their local varieties: A potential supprt to rescue local crop genetic diversity" - Poster