Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Earth & Environmental Sciences


Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Committee Members

Patricia Tovar Rojas

Monica Varsanyi

Subject Categories

Geography | Human Geography | Social and Behavioral Sciences


AfroIndigenous, Indigenous, hybrid, place-making, more sustainable, ethnobotanical practices, Colombian Andean Pacific, intersectional analysis, gender, sexuality, racial capitalism


This dissertation is an ethnography of Indigenous and AfroIndigenous ethnobotanical practices in four communities in Cauca, in the Andean Pacific region in the Western Amazon of Colombia. Through collaborative field work, including interviews and active participant observation, I document the use of herbs and food as medicine, and agricultural and land tenure practices that depart significantly from those of racial-capitalist agribusiness. These ethnobotanical practices recuperate precolonial and ancestral knowledge as one of many efforts to build community autonomy and self-determination in Colombia as it fitfully enters the post conflict period.

Through an intersectional and topographic analysis, I show both the hybrid commonalities and the differences of Afro and Indigenous ethnobotanical practices and their importance in maintaining Afro/Indigenous communities’ cultures, connections to the land, and relations to each other. Supplementing my field work with archival research, I locate these practices within a long genealogy of place-specific resistance to racial capitalism. I document and articulate three dialectical historical movements - ancestral Indigenous knowledge and practices passed down to modern times, the historical and current constraints of racial capitalism from the colonial era to its current neo-imperialist form, and the current hybrid ethnobotanical praxical knowledge that allows Indigenous and Afro/Indigenous peoples to develop and maintain place-specific autonomy.

I hope to continue to work with these dear communities to further understand and analyze the intersectional reality of their lives as they continue to recuperate their cultures, lands, languages, ethnobotanical practices and lives in a complicated post-conflict period in Colombia and in Cauca specifically.