Forests of Belonging
Identities, Ethnicities, and Stereotypes in the Congo River Basin
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Washington Press
Series: Culture, Place, and Nature
Title Page, Copyright
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As I near the end, I circle back to the beginning. Dozens of teachers and advisors, colleagues and friends, and three families in dramatically different parts of the world have contributed to this project in unique and essential ways...
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Studies of the relationships between ethnicity and environment, having grown and matured over several decades, have moved beyond the familiar dichotomy between positivist determinism and relativism. New scholarship observes...
Introduction: Forests of Belonging
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This book is about identities that defy simple categorization. It addresses the conundrum of formal, prescriptive categories that identify people according to where and how they live, but that do not fit with the lived experiences...
1. Paradigms: The Forest and Its Peoples
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The western rim of the Congo River basin is a vast, forested region, covering southeastern Cameroon, northeastern Gabon, northwestern Congo, and southwestern Central African Republic. In many ways this area of dense, tropical forest...
2. Belonging: Ethnic Affiliations and Confluences
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Bending over notebooks spread out over the small, tippy table beneath the edge of the window, I tried to hide from both the afternoon heat of pɛmbé swèè, the long, dry season, and from the curious eyes of neighbors and children...
3. Spaces: Beyond Nature and Culture
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Histories of the confluences and intermingling of Bangando, Baka, Bakwélé, and Mbomam in southeastern Cameroon reveal the extent of spatial and social integration among the communities. In contrast, classic models of forest...
4. Ambiguities: Interethnic Marriage and Descent
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The ethnic distinctions among the Bangando, Baka, Bakwélé, and Mbomam are clearly delineated, with the fundamental social solidarity of speakers of each language linked through a communally held, sentimental belief in the origins...
5. Tangles: Parallel Clans, Alliances, Rituals, and Collective Work
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Ethnic affiliations are thick with historical, linguistic, and ideological value. While not immutable over time, monolithic across communities, or of constant emotional value among individuals, ethnic affiliations are collectively...
6. Identities: People in Changing Contexts
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The fundamental boundaries that distinguish one community from another—Bangando, Baka, Bakwélé, and Mbomam—reflect a collective belief in shared origins and in speaking a common language, and provide the foundations for ethnic...
7. Contradictions: Identities, Opportunities, and Conflicts
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Through processes of coming together and engaging with changing contexts, Bangando, Baka, Bakwélé, and Mbomam have built relationships and alliances, negotiated differences and divisions, and contended with political...
Conclusion: Rethinking Social Identities, Ethnic Affiliations, and Stereotypes
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The central argument presented in this book suggests that by analytically slotting African equatorial forest communities into predetermined categories of “pygmy/villager” and “hunter-gatherer/farmer,” the field of social relations is flattened...
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Glossary of Non-English Terms
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Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Culture, Place, and Nature