School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach

Dr Rajindra Puri

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Anthropology

Ethnobiological knowledge systems; historical ecology; ethnobotany; tropical forests; hunting; climate change.


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School Roles and Responsibilities

Programme Convenor for MSc Ethnobotany and MA, MSc Environmental Anthropology; Director of the Centre for Biocultural Diversity (CBCD)

Academic Background

Trained as an ecological anthropologist and ethnobiologist, over the past 25 years I have been studying the historical ecology of a rainforest valley in Indonesian Borneo, documenting the ethnobiological knowledge of Penan Benalui hunter-gatherers and Kenyah swidden agriculturalists, elucidating the causes and consequences of trade in wild animals and plants, and developing theory and methods for an applied conservation anthropology.

I have served as an ethnobiology consultant to a CIFOR project examining Multipurpose Landscape Assessment, worked in northern Vietnam (2001) for Flora and Fauna International, and collaborated on Global Diversity Foundation research and training projects in Morocco (Wildlife trade in Southern Morocco), Namibia (Kalahari Garden Project), and Sabah, Malaysia (Ethnobiology of proposed traditional use zones in Crocker Range Park, Participatory approaches to nominating Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve).

More recently, my Phd students and I are working on local adaptation to climatic variability (El Nino) and climate change in Borneo, and elsewhere. I was a co-investigator on the ESPA funded project Human Adaptation to Biodiversity Change, 2010-2012, which took me to the Western Ghats of India for field research in 2011. This work has drawn me into research on invasive species, and other ways changes in biodiversity due to climate change threaten biocultural diversity and local livelihoods. I am now thinking about how anthropologists can contribute to climate change science, and specifically developing mixed methods for studying local responses to environmental change. Toward this end, I am now studying responses to complex transformations in rural landscapes in Europe (iberian cork oak landscapes and Kent agriculture).

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Ellen, R. and Puri, R. (2017). Conceptualising 'core' medicinal floras: A comparative and methodological study of phytomedical resources in related Indonesian populations. Conservation and Society [Online] 14:345-358. Available at:
Teixidor-Toneu, I. et al. (2017). Treating infants with frigg: linking disease aetiologies, medicinal plant use and care-seeking behaviour in southern Morocco. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine [Online] 13:1-13. Available at:
Weckerle, C. et al. (2017). Recommended standards for conducting and reporting ethnopharmacological field studies. Journal of Ethnopharmacology [Online] 220:125-132. Available at:
Ellen, R. and Puri, R. (2017). Conceptualising 'core' medicinal flora: A comparative and methodological study of phytomedical resources in related Indonesian populations. Conservation and Society [Online] 14:345-358. Available at:
Garcia-Gomez, E. et al. (2017). The consumption of acorns (from Quercus spp.) in the Central West of Iberian Peninsula in the twentieth century. Economic Botany [Online] 71:256-268. Available at:
D'Ambrosio, U. and Puri, R. (2016). Foodways in transition: food plants, diet and local perceptions of change in a Costa Rican Ngäbe community. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine [Online] 12:1-32. Available at:
Sheil, D. et al. (2016). The moral basis for conservation - reflections on Dickman et al. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment [Online] 14:67-69. Available at:
Teixidor-Toneu, I. et al. (2016). An ethnomedicinal survey of a Tashelhit speaking community in the High Atlas, Morocco. Journal of Ethnopharmacology [Online] 188:96-110. Available at:
Showing 8 of 35 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]



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Programme Convenor for MA/MSc in Environmental Anthropology and MSc in Ethnobotany

I teach on the following modules:

  • SE802: Research Methods in Social Anthropology
  • SE807: Contemporary Ethnography in Environmental Anthropology
  • SE831: Environmental Anthropology
  • SE832: Ethnobiological Knowledge Systems
  • SE845: Practical Methods in Conservation Social Science


I teach on the following modules

  • SE306: Animals, People and Plants: An introduction to Ethnobiology
  • SE308: Skills for Anthropology and Conservation
  • SE542: Human Ecology
  • SE594: Anthropology and Development
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Current PhD Students:

  • Clive Dennis - How do the Banawá perceive and respond to environmental change?
  • Kay Evelina Lewis-Jones - Banking on Biodiversity and what it means to conserve a wild seed in the Anthropocene: perceptions of threat and value in a conservation network.
  • Craig Ritchie - Natural Resource Management Practices and Cultural Change within Indigenous Communities of the Curanja and Purús Rivers in Alto Purús, Peru: Implications for Biodiversity (Peru).

Past PhD Students:

  • Nejm BenessaiahSustainable livelihoods and contested futures: How do Algerian date palm farmers adapt to disruptive socio-ecological change (Algeria)?
  • Ugo D’AmbrosioNgabe explanations of Agroculinary transitions in southern Conte-Burica (Costa Rica).
  • Saskia Dijk - The cultural aspects of human-nonhuman primate relationships, in the Goalpara District in Assam (India).
  • Zerihun Doda Doffana - "Dagucho [P. falcatus] is Abbo!" Sacred Groves of Wonsho-Sidama, Ethiopia: Their Maintenance Motives, Consequences and Conservation Threats.
  • Gotzone Garay - Come rain, water us this year: Kenyah Badeng forecasting knowledge, perceptions and responses to climatic variability in the interior of Sarawak (Malaysia).
  • Oana Ivan - Cultural change in a traditional fishing village in the Danube Delta: the consequences of environmental protection and tourism (Romania).
  • Jonathon Loh - Measuring and monitoring status and trends in global biocultural diversity.
  • Viola Schreer - The ‘social life’ of rattan in Katingan, Indonesia: Investigating rattan knowledge in the context of socio-economic and environmental dynamics.
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Director, Centre for Biocultural Diversity.

Affiliate partner on the MEDPLANT ITN.

I coordinated the Erasmus Intensive Programme, Biocultural Diversity of local people and migrants in 'Europe: Concepts and Interdisciplinary Methods' for a consortium of 10 universities in Europe (2009-2011). The consortium now consists of 13 universities, and plans are in the works for more training courses in the future. In the meantime, I teach on the Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) at the Rachel Carson Centre in Munich.

In September 2010, I convened a seminar 'New Directions in Urgent Anthropology' that brought together past and present fellows of the RAI's Urgent Anthropology Fellowship to discuss their work, its impacts, and future needs and directions. Videos of some of the presentations are available on the RAI website. An edited volume of the papers presented at the seminar is in preparation.

RAI Council member

American Friends of the RAI, Trustee

Borneo Research Council, Board of Trustees

Advances in Research: Environment and Society (Berghahn Books), Editorial Collective

Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology Series (Berghahn Books), Kent editorial committee

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School of Anthropology and Conservation - © University of Kent

School of Anthropology and Conservation, Marlowe Building, The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NR, T: +44 (0)1227 827056

Last Updated: 13/10/2017