Living in a Landscape of Scarcity: Materiality and Cosmology by Laurence Douny

By Laurence Douny

In her shut ethnography of a Dogon village of Mali, Laurence Douny indicates how a microcosmology develops from people's embodied day-by-day and formality perform in a panorama of shortage. seen in the course of the lens of containment perform, she describes how they do something about the dearth of fabric goods relevant to their lives—water, earth, and millet. Douny’s learn is a crucial addition to ecological anthropology, to the examine of West African cultures, to the knowledge of fabric tradition, and to anthropological thought.

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Extra resources for Living in a Landscape of Scarcity: Materiality and Cosmology in West Africa

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Dogon’s containment model develops through their practices of containment, which encompass their ritual and daily embodied makings and doings of material and symbolic containers that are stacked or self-contained in a successive and contiguous way. In other words, containment materialises through, first, the making of the social, political, and symbolic boundaries of the territory and of domestic space and, second, the building of a female granary—both for protection purposes. The containment model reveals itself through the gathering of living matter such as millet, water, and earth within these multiple bounded spaces and containers forms.

Yet, the Western idealised view is also nurtured by the Dogon themselves in tourist areas as well as by Dogon traditionalists. In this regard, since 1992, the NGO Ginna Dogon seeks the protection and promotion of Dogon culture and ancestral traditions, or atɛmu (‘tradition’ or ‘law’), and it recognises the Dogon’s Mande origin. Ginna Dogon has been seen elsewhere as a political and economic strategy to legitimise the practices of the Dogon elite’s (Bouju 1995c, 95–117). All these factors have clearly contributed to the construction and consolidation of Dogon as a cultural unity.

In Giddens’ terms, an ontological security refers to ‘a sense of continuity and order in events, including those not directly within the perceptual environment of the individual’ (Giddens 1991, 243). From this perspective, containment as Dogon ways of living in a landscape container of scarcity consists of a unifying principle that creates a sense of cohesion, unity, and solidarity among Dogon villagers through their shared embodied knowledge, stemming from their taskscapes and the gathering and curation of the resources of the landscape and of the village’s land shrines.

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