Ina Vandebroek – The Spiritual Component – The Anthropology of Ethnopharmacology

Posted in Uncategorized by admin on May 27, 2015

excerpt from The Anthropology of Ethnopharmacology

The third issue is that a plant medicine usually has more than one meaning. Its physiological

effect cannot be separated from its anticipated other meanings – emotional or spiritual – by the

people who use or sell the plant. Another botánica-related story illustrates this. A Puerto Rican

man in his 50s has been a needle user for about 20 years. He has been in and out of different

drug programmes and travels back and forth to Puerto Rico to detox.When he comes back to

New York City, he often relapses. He regularly visits a botánica, usually once or twice a day,

to drink a herbal tea remedy prepared by the botánica owner. The owner claims it helps him

deal with the anxiety associated with his substance abuse problem. The tea consists of half

an ounce of sándalo (mint, Mentha sp., Lamiaceae) mixed with perejil (parsley, Petroselinum

crispum (Mill.) Fuss, Apiaceae) and one branch of ruda (rue, Ruta spp., Rutaceae). The owner

prepares the remedy in advance in bulk and stores it in the refrigerator, so that when the patient

drops in he can get immediate assistance. While explaining the use of medicinal plants, the

botánica owner stressed the importance of the spiritual component of healing. He reiterated

that whereas medicinal plants assist in alleviating a biomedical problem, healing also has a

spiritual component. It prepares the patient mentally in the healing process. Spiritual healing

can be achieved through cleansing (‘limpieza’), bathing, faith and spiritual consultations. This

supposedly ‘cuts off’ the negative energy that a patient has been accumulating. It is important

to note here that it is not the issue whether or not a spiritual component is effective, but that

this component is relevant to both traditional healthcare provider and patient. It contributes

to the realm of healing, and as such merits its place as a subject of scientific inquiry.

The needle user’s story unravels the many often complex layers of traditional medicine,

entwining physical, cultural, emotional and spiritual dimensions. The richness of the cultural

context clearly goes beyond utilitarian knowledge about plants. This multidimensionality is

not restricted to isolated rural areas, nor is it something from the past. It exists within urban

and even transnational environments, for example in New York City, and it is used today for

conditions as ‘modern’ as substance abuse and ovarian cysts.

The aspiring ethnopharmacologist might wonder if this complexity in traditional medicine is

something he or she should take on as a research task. How relevant is culture in the face of the

evaluation of the pharmacological properties of plants in the laboratory? Perhaps the question

can be rephrased as follows: should ethnopharmacologists focus only on that part of culture

that is associated with the utilitarian aspect of plants? Do we take culture into account when

we want to obtain data on local plant uses, but not when it relates to other types of knowledge

linked to plants, the kind that is psycho-social or spiritual in nature? An easy answer would be

‘I cannot do it all.’ Or ‘the funding agency I am applying for does not support these kinds

of musings’. Nevertheless, generating a rich, inclusive dataset to develop a comprehensive

plant monograph can be indispensable to understand (cultural patterns of) plant knowledge,

as opposed to a reductionist (and inevitably incomplete) approach. It also serves the added

benefit that it can help preserve the integrity of cultural heritage. The psycho-social, religious

or spiritual components of plant knowledge contain a lot of meaning for conservation of useful

plant species at the community level since unfragmented stories associated with plants have

direct cultural relevance to keep knowledge about plants (and their uses) alive. It has been

argued before that to ‘deprive a people of their language, culture and spiritual values [makes

them] lose all sense of direction and purpose’ (Posey, 1999).

As an ethnobotanist educated in and trained from a botanical perspective, I became

increasingly aware of the overarching importance of culture during fieldwork. The more I

studied medicinal plants, the more I began to understand that culture shapes everything,

including plant knowledge. After all, biomedicine is a cultural construct too, which is elegantly

demonstrated by Miner (1956) in his influential article about the Nacirema. Furthermore,

anthropology has highlighted the importance of cultural relativism, the view that beliefs,

customs and ethics vary from culture to culture and that all are equally valid; no one system is

‘better’ than another (Spiro, 1986). Spiro writes: ‘In short all science is ethnoscience. Hence,

since modern science is western science, its truth claims (and canons of proof) are no less

culturally relative than those of any other ethnoscience.’ Other scholars have gone as far

as to bring up the notion that traditional medicine needs to be evaluated within its own

cultural framework rather than approved and subdued by the rules of biological (western)

medicine (Gorn and Sugiyama, 2004). Finally, Lynn Payer’s compelling work Culture &

Medicine: Varieties of Treatment in the United States, England, West Germany and France

(Payer, 1996) shows in a compelling way how even contemporary western cultures differ,

sometimes dramatically, in the ways in which they construct scientific medicine.

The key to improving healthcare in an increasingly globalized world may lie in integrating

different cultural dimensions of healthcare, or at least in keeping an open mind about different

ways in which other cultures think about, experience and respond to health and healthcare. In

that regard, it would be useful to adopt the term ‘culturally competent healthcare’ systems

(Anderson et al., 2003), which take into account the cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices

of patients as well as physicians. Ethnopharmacology can be at the forefront of building bridges

between these different systems of healthcare by embracing culture as the indispensable link

between a plant and a medicine.

Ina Vandebroek

wfuv.org – alternative treatments: botanica

Posted in Uncategorized by admin on May 15, 2015

Botanicas mix spirituality and nature to provide remedies for various emotional and physical ailments.

At Original Products Botanica in the Bronx, shelves are stocked with thousands of medicinal herbs, fast-luck bath salts and even so-called “Bring Back My Man” candles. To those unfamiliar with the culture, these products may seem more like gag gifts rather than actual treatments. But to Botanica patrons, they’re real solutions to emotional trauma and physical pain.

Chris Ochun is the Head Santero Priest at Original Products. He uses divination rituals to help customers understand what’s troubling their bodies and spirits.

“We try to help them out with whatever is going on in their lives, and utilize whatever spiritual means we have to try and give them balance,” Ochun said.

Ochun says medical and spiritual needs often intertwine. He recalls one woman who recently claimed she felt a spirit crawling all over her body.

“Personally I freak out when I hear that,so im thinking bugs or something like that,” Ochun said. “For some reason she was having some skin rash that was going on in her body. So we gave her some selected herbs, like there’s this Spanish one called Prodigiosa and Aloe Vera, which is pretty known. And it’s actually helping her out.”

Ochun says his products can be very beneficial. But he says when people come in with serious illnesses, he recommends they see medical professionals. But Ina Vandebroek with the New York Botanical Garden, says many immigrants hesitate to do so. She’s studied the use of medicinal plants in New York’s Caribbean and Hispanic communities.

“Well it’s a common complaint that pharmaceuticals cure one organ but then they hurt another, like you take something to help your liver but then you get a stomachache,” Vandebroek said. “That reason was even more important than the fact that medicinal plants may be cheaper than pharmaceuticals.”

Vandebroek recommends physicians have open dialogues with patients who use herbal and spiritual remedies in order to provide the best all-around care.

– See more at: http://www.wfuv.org/content/alternative-treatments-botanicas

by Jimena Galindo

Posted in Uncategorized by admin on May 12, 2015

http://pintofscience.us/event/community-health/ Monday 18 May 2015 Doors open 7pm, Event 7:30pm onwards Gun Hill Brewery, 3227 Laconia Ave, Bronx, NY  


A Little Taste of Home for Your Health

Ina studies the dynamics of medicinal plant knowledge and use for primary healthcare by local communities in remote rural areas, as well as by Latino and Caribbean immigrants in New York City. Her research shows that, even in times of general loss of biological and cultural diversity worldwide, the use of plants as medicines remains popular in many communities today.

Human genes – Ebola’s GPS

In the past decade, Kartik and his group have focused on understanding how Ebola virus coöpts the intricate molecular mechanisms of our very own cells to invade them and turn them into virus-producing factories. They have discovered human genes that (unwittingly) act as Ebola’s GPS system, helping to orient it as it threads its way through the convoluted alleyways of the cell.

thank you – Rory Stewart

Posted in Uncategorized by admin on May 11, 2015

Dear all,

Thank you, very much, for taking an interest in our work over the last five years.  And a particular thank you to those who voted in the election.  We’ve achieved the highest majority ever recorded in Penrith & The Border, since the seat was created in 1950. (The majority has almost doubled since 2010, to just under 20,000).

I’m very aware how so much of what we’ve achieved – in affordable housing, farming, neighborhood planning, smart energy, protecting our landscape, or winning better broadband and mobile phone coverage, is due to your effort – the effort of Cumbrian communities. It is Cumbrian energy that’s allowed these projects to flourish, in some of the most testing and remote places in the United Kingdom.

I would love, with your support, over the next five years to continue to fight to keep Cumbria the best place in the United Kingdom.  This isn’t a time for rehearsing manifesto, it’s really just a time to thank you.  And to say how much the last few weeks has reminded me how lucky we are, how precious Cumbria is, and how hard we must continue to fight to preserve it.

Thank you for voting for me.  Thank you for your support.  I am so proud to have had the privilege of being re-elected as your Member of Parliament,


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Le Salon: interview Francis Mary avec François Curlet

Posted in Uncategorized by admin on April 27, 2015

Francis Mary Cette interview, après celle d’Eric Fabre (autre amateur de Robert Filliou) s’inscrit dans l’une des rubriques du site Le Salon consacrée aux collectionneurs. En quoi cette appellation « collectionneur » s’applique-t-elle à cette collection (j’ai presque envie de dire à cette « collecte ») des œuvres multiples de Robert Filliou que tu as constituée?

François Curlet Oui, je préfère le terme « collecte » à celui de collection. Depuis des années, je suis amateur de catalogues et de livres d’artistes. Concernant Filliou, le déclic est venu à partir de propositions d’achat de multiples et livres d’artistes de Filliou qui se sont présentées. J’ai alors découvert la constellation de ses productions, de ses éditions et à partir de là, je me suis pris au jeu sous forme d’enquête. Cet état d’esprit entrait en résonance avec celui de Filliou : « multidirectionnel et entêté ».

FM Robert Filliou évoluait dans la mouvance de Fluxus. Comment caractériserais-tu ce mouvement d’avant-garde des années 60 dont la fluidité n’a jamais cessé d’échapper à la récupération dogmatique? Quelles attitudes dans ta pratique artistique se croisent avec cette mouvance?

FC Pour moi Fluxus était un groupe décentré, composé de personnalités très différentes et qui fonctionnait comme un essaim sans reine. Même si George Maciunas a joué le rôle d’un impresario facilitant un partage des idées et une promulgation des noms propres dans le contexte du Pop. Filliou a navigué dans ce réseau dans les premières années de sa vie d’artiste à Paris, New York et en Allemagne, ce qui lui a entre autre permis d’entrer en connivence avec Emmett Williams (1925-2007) et plus particulièrement avec George Brecht (1926-2008), autres figures emblématiques du mouvement Fluxus. Pour répondre à la seconde partie de ta question, pour moi le croisement avec Filliou s’est fait très tôt. Etudiant, une photographie a créé un déclic. On y voit Filliou marcher dans la 42ème rue à NY avec cette légende « en ce temps là, j’ai eu le plan d’un projet, c’était d’être intégré dans la foule ».

FM À propos de cette légende, n’est-ce pas contradictoire pour un artiste qui en principe recherche la singularité, de vouloir se rendre anonyme?

FC Non, car le fait de formaliser son inscription dans la foule le singularise tout en l’inscrivant simultanément sur l’échiquier collectif. George Brecht avait une autre formulation équivalente « je ne veux pas être le premier mais le huitième ».

FM Revenons à ta collection/collecte. Quelle importance, valorisation ou sens attribues-tu au fait qu’il s’agit d’œuvres multiples comparées à des œuvres uniques?

FC Les œuvres en plus d’un exemplaire sont plus accessibles techniquement et matériellement, mais le fait d’en rassembler le plus grand nombre voire la totalité rend unique le rapprochement spatial de ces éditions.

FM D’une certaine manière mais de façon paradoxale on retrouve le goût du collectionneur pour la pièce unique?

FC La différence est que l’on passe du gri-gri unique à une situation dont l’unicité est le rassemblement.

FM Comment as-tu financé cette collecte?

FC Par mes propres moyens et puis, ayant forcément trouvé des doubles dans ma recherche des éditions, j’en ai vendu à des collectionneurs allant d’amateurs passionnés à d’autres dont les motivations étaient plus cartésiennes. J’ai également mis en contact avec des marchands deux ou trois collectionneurs qui avaient les moyens d’acheter des œuvres uniques historiques de Filliou à des prix raisonnables.

FM Il t’a fallu, je suppose, un certain temps pour rassembler l’ensemble de ces œuvres multiples? De combien d’éléments constituant l’archive parlons-nous d’ailleurs?

FC Une période de recherches et d’achat fut très concentrée entre 1997 et 2000. Il faut signaler que mes recherches ont été aidées par le fait que bon nombre de ces éléments d’archives dormaient dans de tiroirs éparpillés à travers le monde. Puis, comme toutes les collections spécifiques et au fil de l’avancée, la courbe exponentielle des trouvailles a diminué progressivement. Aujourd’hui « un goutte à goutte » maintient en éveil le corpus et a remplacé le flux intense des années 1997/2000. L’ensemble est constitué à ce jour de 174 éléments. Je suis toujours à la recherche de quelques éditions et éphéméras.

FM Je suppose qu’il t’a fallu identifier les réseaux susceptibles d’avoir ces éléments d’archives. As-tu noué à cette occasion en dehors des transactions « commerciales » des contacts qui t’ont donné des éclairages sur Robert Filliou?

FC J’ai rencontré des éditeurs, galeristes, collectionneurs qui ont connu Filliou et qui ont conforté le profil du personnage que l’on pouvait deviner au travers de ses déclarations et de ses œuvres. Un homme au comportement homogène.

FM Maintenant que tu possèdes cet ensemble. A quoi le destines-tu?

FC Cette archive a donné suite à des expositions: 1999 à l’Institut Français de Stuttgart, 2000 au Musée d’Art Contemporain de Strasbourg et au FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, 2002 au MAC à Lyon et 2004 au MUKHA à Anvers, la même année de la publication d’un catalogue raisonné des éditions aux presses du réel. Ensuite l’archive a été déposée six années en dépôt au MACBA de Barcelone. Après cette période j’ai proposé de vendre intégralement cette collection via des marchands sans vraiment comprendre à qui ils la destinaient et le prix qu’ils en demandaient. Cette situation de marchandage opaque m’a donné l’envie d’en faire don à un musée singulier pour rester dans l’esprit de Filliou mais quelqu’un m’a fait changer d’avis avec cette devise : « Donner à un pauvre c’est prêter à Dieu. Donner à l’Etat, c’est prêter à rire ». J’ai donc continué ma collecte…



MIND, photo Robert Filliou, en ce temps là Filliou a eu le plan d’un projet: c’était « d’être intégré dans la foule », photo: Scott Hyde


Hand Show, 1967, 24 sérigraphies noir et blanc dans une boîte en bois dont le couvercle coulissant en plexiglas est sérigraphié, ed. SABA-Studio, Brunner Schwer, Villingen, boîte: 30 x 24,2 x 4 cm, planche: 28,2 x 22 cm, 150 exemplaires signés et numérotés sur la troisième de couverture du dossier qui enserre les différentes planches


The Frozen Exhibition, 1972, emboîtage en forme de chapeau recouvert de feutrine avec photographies et textes fac-similés insérés relatifs à l’exposition The Misfits’ Fair organisée à Londres en 1962 par les artistes participants, ed. VICE-Versand, Wolfgang Feelisch, Remscheid, 170 exemplaires dont 100 mis en vente et 70 réservés aux artistes, 20,5 x 31,5 x 0,5 cm


Futile Box, 1977, boîte en bois, balle en caoutchouc, ed. Bengt-Adlers, Malmö, 25 exemplaires, 2 épreuves d’artistes et 8 H.C, signés et numérotés, 8 x 7,5 x 7,5 cm


A New Way to Blow Out Matches/Une nouvelle façon d’éteindre les allumettes, 1980, boîte en bois contenant une toupie lestée par une allumette et une boîte d’allumettes, ed. Bengt-Adlers, Malmö, 30 exemplaires signés «  Robert Filliou  » et numérotés sur étiquette collée sur couvercle, 7,2 x 10,7 x 4,8 cm


Optimistic Box N° 1, 1968, boîte en hêtre, étiquettes, pierre, laiton, ed. VICE-Versand, Wolfgang Feelisch, Remscheid, edition illimitée signée «  R.F  » à l’intérieur, 11 x 11 x 11 cm, Optimistic Box N° 2, 1969, boîte en bois de production courante recyclée pour l’édition, étiquettes, photographie et laiton, ed. VICE-Versand, Wolfgang Feelisch, Remscheid, edition illimitée signée «  R.F  », dimension variable: 12 x 9 x 2,5 cm / 12,6 x 9,7 x 3,5 cm, Optimistic Box N° 3, 1969, boîte en bois de production courante recyclée pour l’édition et sérigraphiée , étiquettes et laiton, ed. VICE-Versand, Wolfgang Feelisch, Remscheid, edition illimitée signée «  R.F  », dimension variable: 12 x 6 x 2,9 cm fermé, 12 x 12 x 1 cm déplié, Optimistic Box N° 4 et 5, 1968 – 1981, cochon en céramique et étiquettes imprimées collées, ed. VICE-Versand, Wolfgang Feelisch, Remscheid, edition illimitée signée « R.F » sur un des côtés, environ 9,5 x 16,5 x 11 cm


La belette est solitaire, 1961-1972, lithographie sur papier kraft en 7 couleurs, 75,5 x 48,5 cm, 29,72 x 19,09 inches, edition of 90, with Ed. Museumsverein, Mönchengladbach, signé, non numéroté, photo: Florian Kleinefenn, Courtesy Estate of Robert Filliou and Peter Freeman Inc., Paris


Galerie Légitime, 1968, plastique transparent sur photographie collée sur bois avec 2 crochets et 2 anneaux / transparent plastic foil on photograph mounted on wood, two hooks and two rings, 42 x 60,2 cm, 16 1/2 x 23 3/4 inches, edition of 120, with Ed. Wilbrand, Cologne, photo: Florian Kleinefenn, Courtesy Estate of Robert Filliou and Peter Freeman Inc., Paris


Posted in Uncategorized by admin on April 20, 2015

Ina Vandebroek – One man’s thunderstorm

There once was a man

who lived in the city.

He wanted to do things.

He had high hopes,

and even higher expectations.

He wanted to love.

He wanted to live.

Each night he sat in his chair.

He thought about life.

He thought about love.

He doubted his thoughts,

but kept dreaming.

There once was another man

who lived in the hills.

He got up at 4 am each morning

to tend his goats,

dig out his yam banks,

carry home breakfast,

send his kids to school.

That man thought too.

Each night he sat on his porch.

He thought about life.

He thought about love.

He knew what he wanted,

and made it come true.

One man’s thunderstorm

is another man’s sunshine.

Ina Vandebroek, 18 April 2015


Posted in Uncategorized by admin on April 12, 2015
Ina Vandebroek - The older the moon, the brighter it shines
Whine like a banana leaf in the breeze.
Sing like a cricket in the night.
Circle down from the sky like a John Crow.
Glow as bright as a kitibu.
Move as swift as an anole lizard.
Stand up tall like a grow stake bush.
Humble yourself like a shame-me-darling.
Taste as sweet as Julie mango.
Cross the road as fierce as fowl.
Behave as mysterious as a mangoose.
Never be a rat that digs an ugly hole.
Feel as soft to the touch as rain.
Smell as potent as a ganja bud.
Age as beautiful the moon.
Ina Vandebroek (Portland, 28 March 2015)

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