J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2022 Jun 17;18(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s13002-022-00540-w.
BACKGROUND: While the hybridization of ecological knowledge has attracted substantial attention from researchers, the coexistence of local and allopathic medicinal traditions in literate societies widely exposed to centralized schooling and medical services has not yet been investigated. To this end, we studied the current and remembered local ethnomedical practices of Setos and neighboring Russians at the border with Estonia.
METHODS: During 2018-2019, we carried out 62 semi-structured interviews in the Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, NW Russia. For cross-border comparison, we utilized the data from 71 interviews carried out at the same time among Setos in Estonia. The Jaccard Similarity Index and qualitative comparison were used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: The study participants mentioned 819 uses of 112 taxa belonging to 54 families. More than two-thirds of the uses (565) were quoted by 36 Russian interviewees, while the remaining third (254) were quoted by 26 Seto interviewees, with the top 3 in both groups being Viburnum opulus, Rubus idaeus, and Plantago major. The Seto intraethnic similarity index was lower (0.43) than the interethnic similarity in Estonia (0.52) and comparable to the interethnic similarity in Russia (0.43). Setos in Russia and local Russians rely more on wild plants (86% and 80% of medicinal plants, respectively), while Setos in Estonia and Estonians show less preference to them (63% and 61%, respectively). Nevertheless, Setos tend to source wild plants available in their gardens (33% of plants for Setos in Estonia and 38% in Russia), while Russians prefer to source them in the wild (38%).
CONCLUSIONS: The preference of both groups in Russia for wild plants over cultivated and purchased plants was inspired by the overall plant literacy, access to nature, and one-to-many knowledge transfer favoring wild plants. Setos in Russia reported a narrower and more homogenous set of plants transferred vertically. However, due to atomization and the erosion of horizontal connections, there are singular plant uses among Setos that overlap with the local Russian set of medicinal plants and differ qualitatively from that of Setos in Estonia.