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Ethnoecology of the chestnut tree in Corsica, Mediterranean arboriculture in the light of Anthropology, Ecology and History

PhD thesis in progress (Oct. 2022-Sept. 2025): Doria Bellache

Doria Bellache

Original title: Ethnoécologie du châtaignier en Corse, Une arboriculture méditerranéenne au prisme de l’anthropologie, l’écologie et l’histoire

Directed by Vincent Battesti (UMR 7206 Éco-anthropologie, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle), Franck Richard (CEFE, Université de Montpellier) and Denis Jouffroy (LISA, Université de Corse). Partnership with the National Botanical Conservatory of Corsica (CBNC). Funding by the Cullettività di Corsica - Collectivité de Corse.

 PhD in Ecole doctorale of Muséum national d’histoire naturelle.


The Corsican chestnut grove is a socio-ecosystem that has played a major role in the island’s agricultural and food history since its cultivation began in the 16th century (Jouffroy, 2015). Although it has been declining since the 19th century (as a result of agricultural demise and socio-economic change) and has been weakened by the presence of introduced pathogens, it remains central to the memories of the island’s inhabitants and identity, and is acknowledged as a high value ecosystem.

Corsican chestnut groves are intrinsically linked to human communities in a system of ’complex biocultural relationships’ (Michon, 2011). This interdisciplinary PhD proposes to study these complex connections in an integrative way by combining three disciplinary approaches: ethnoecology, ecology and history. It will explore the chestnut groves of Corsica using a multi-site approach, by carrying out a series of analyses on a micro-local scale.

The ethnoecological approach will examine chestnut groves in terms of the social and ecological systems they form, by analysing the ways in which people think about, live in and transform them. The ecology of interactions will aim to understand the place of the chestnut tree in the functioning of the island’s landscapes, via its ability to integrate into ectomycorrhizal networks. The interaction networks will be compared with ethnoecological and historical data in order to understand the links between past and present human practices, patterns of diversity and the functioning of chestnut groves. The historical approach will make it possible to understand chestnut trees over a long period of time by recontextualising the stands sampled. Local discourses on chestnut groves will be compared with historical data in order to reconstruct the historical links that local people have with them, from a ’historical ethnoecology’ perspective (Simenel, 2011).


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Doria Bellache , "Ethnoecology of the chestnut tree in Corsica, Mediterranean arboriculture in the light of Anthropology, Ecology and History " (online), Anthropoasis |, page published 1 October 2022 (consulted 29 May 2024), available on: