Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Ethnosystems and Development Programme (LEAD)


Projects and Programmes

In December 1988, Prof. Richard E. Leakey, Director of the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and Prof. L. Jan Slikkerveer, Director of the LEAD Programme of Leiden University signed a Letter of Intent on joint scientific research and training in the field of ethnoscience. This event marked the beginning of a long-term fruitful collaboration programme up until today, pertaining to several major research projects in Kenya (Etnobotany in Gogo Falls, Kenya 1989/1990); in Kenya and Indonesia (Ethno-agriculture in Kitui and Halimun – INDAKS 1994/1999) and in Leiden at the LEAD Programme on the Scientific Heritage Archive of Human Evolution and Development (HEAD, from 2008 onwards). In addition, joint PHD studies have been realised in 2005 and 2007, while another 4 PhD studies are currently in progress. Also, several joint Symposia and Workshops have jointly been organised in Kenya and The Netherlands.

Rediscovery of the Historical Archive on Human Evolution and Development (HEAD)

In addition to the earliest cooperation with Richard Leakey, in 2008, LEAD set up the Human Evolution and Development Programme (HEAD) in collaboration with Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya (Prof.Dr. R.E. Leakey) and Universitas Padjadjaran in Indonesia (Mrs. W. Erwina MA), which seeks to document, digitize and analyse the oldest unique archive on Physical Anthropology at the LEAD Programme in Leiden.

The Archive has been stored in oblivion since 1994, when Prof. Slikkerveer saved the rare collection of more than 400 boxes with scientific documents dating back to the end of the 19th century from destruction to add to his private library.

The great value of the collection has been reconfirmed by Prof.Dr. Richard E. Leakey from Kenya as the oldest important Scientific Heritage Archive, and was soon thereafter housed as a loan collection in the LEAD library in the Van Steenis Building in Leiden. Following the HEAD Workshop in 2009, a Letter of Intent was undersigned, in preparation of the submission of a programme proposal for further digitalisation in 2015.

In view of the focus of the collection on early scientific research in Southeast Asia, the archive is currently the subject of PhD studies by Indonesian Fellows from Communication and Library Science from Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung, where 3 PhD fellows from Indonesia are currently working on this unique historical archive.

Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge for Sustainable Development in Africa and Indonesia

In 1994, LEAD established an International Research Consortium on ‘Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge for Sustainable Development in Africa and Indonesia’, encompassing LEAD, Universiteit Leiden, The Netherlands (Prof.Dr.L.J.Slikkerveer,Coordinator), KENRIK, the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya (Prof.Dr. R.E. Leakey), INRIK, Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung, Indonesia (Prof.Dr. K. Adimihardja) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (Dr. A. Nikolaidis) in Crete, Greece, which received substantial funding from the European Commission for the execution of the Research Programme.

This comparative Programme was conducted in the Kitui District in Kenya and Halimun District in Indonesia, and pertained to the realisation of a successful ‘bottom-up’ strategy of integrated agro-ecosystems in both research areas.

In 2006, LEAD undersigned a Letter of Intent with the Traditional Medical Research Centre in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania on Utilisation and Validation of Traditional Herbal Medicine among Patients in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, of which the complementary research is still in progress. This research project has later been extended in 2012 with the cooperation with the Faculty of Pharmacy of the National University of Singapore in Singapore.

In 2013, LEAD initiated a comparable research programme with the Leiden University Medical Center on the complementary validation of medicinal plants from East Africa, used for the treatment of dengue. The same year, a Letter of Intent was undersigned. The project is currently still in progress.

Over The Counter Medications

In 2009, LEAD joined the Research Project Assessing the Over-The-Counter Medications in Primary Care in Seven South-European Countries (OTC/SOCIOMED), coordinated by Prof.Dr. C. Lionis of the Department of Social and Family Medicine of the University of Crete. As Leader of the Programme’s Work Package 2 on “Assessment of the Extent of the OTC Problem: Physician and Patient OTC Pharmaceuticals Utilization Report”, Prof.Dr. L.J. Slikkerveer of LEAD coordinated this research in Crete, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey and the Czech Republic, pertaining to the Final Report of Work Package 2 of 1500 pp.

Jamu in Indonesia

A major component of the research activities of LEAD staff in ethnobotany includes local peoples’ knowledge, belief and practice of medicinal plants in Indonesia, where traditional herbal medicines are known as jamu. The related medical ethnobotanical research is conducted in Java and Bali in cooperation with the Martha Tilaar Group in Jakarta and the Faculty of Medicine and lately, the Faculty of Pharmacy of Universitas Padjadjaran in Bandung.
The growing interest in the subject of traditional herbal medicine is also reflected in ongoing research in Indonesia of PhD candidates of the LEAD Programme from The Netherlands, Indonesia, Kenya, Tanzania, Belgium, Austria.

Medusa: Medicinal Plants of the Mediterranean

LEAD was invited to join the Medusa Network of Institutions involved in the study of medicinal, aromatic and cosmetic (MAC) plants of the Mediterranean Region, encompassing joint ethnobotanical research in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, Marocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The programme is coordinated by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICH) and includes the identification, conservation and use of wild plants of the Mediterranean Region. Following a number of workshops in the participating countries, Medusa is now focused on the elaboration of the Medusa Databank at MAICH in Chania. The contribution of LEAD to Medusa includes the provision of research findings from post-graduate MSc and PhD research, carried out in Crete, Greece

University of the Mountains in Crete

Based on the long-term collaboration in IKS-related research and fieldwork-training in rural Crete by post-graduate MA students from Leiden since 1988, the LEAD Programme was invited in 2012 to join the International Consortium on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Development of Mountain Communities (IKS&DMC), with the aim to establish together with the University of Crete and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania the University of the Mountains in Crete.

In the same year, the related Letter of Intent has been undersigned, pertaining to the follow-up research on Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Development of Mountain Communities in Crete.

In 2016, a joint project proposal will be submitted by the Inter-national Consortium to the EU in Brussels to apply for funding of joint research and the establsihment of ‘kafenion’, science café’s in Crete in the field of ethnoscience and sustainable community development.

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