2016 研究助成 Research Grant Program  /  (A)共同研究助成  
(Grant Number)
(Project Title)
Revitalizing the Endangered Biocultural Heritage of the Ryukyus, a Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Hot Spot of Extinction 
当山 昌直
Masanao Toyama
The Institute of Regional Study, Okinawa University
(Grant Amount)
企画書・概要 (Abstract of Project Proposal)


    UNESCO has designated most of the Ryukyuan languages as endangered: 4 definitely and 2 critically. These languages are now used only by older generations whose daily life continues to be in direct contact with the natural environment; its fauna and flora. Together with the recent degradation in the biological diversity of the islands, the knowledge, recognition and usage of animals and plants is also rapidly disappearing; only remembered as vocabularies in quite diverse dialects of the islands. 
    Therefore, we plan to interview aged persons belonging to the last generation who are familiar with the biological and cultural diversity on the Ryukyuan islands. We will make a scientific inventory of their indigenous knowledge, and a record of narratives on their lifestyles that depended on the rich biocultural diversity of the islands.
 The Ryukyus, divided into Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama islets will be the main field for our study. Local leaders for each islet group will collaborate with researchers for whom Okinawa Island will serve as the headquarter of study.
    In order to hand down the endangered knowledge systems to future generations, we will construct a renewable database that can be accessed, corrected, and enlarged both by local communities and researchers. This cloud database will serve as a new Ryukyuan Biocultural Heritage and will continue to reevaluate, register, and propagate currently endangered knowledge to future generations.

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