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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Leaving a Person Behind: History, Personhood, and Struggles over Forest Resources in the Sangha Basin of Equatorial Africa
Author:Giles-Vernick, TamaraISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Historical Studies
Geographic term:Central African Republic
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Development and Technology
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/220344
Abstract:This essay demonstrates in one small region of equatorial Africa, the Sangha basin in the Central African Republic, how attributes of person are linked to notions of the past, and how historical explorations of personhood can enrich environmental historians' investigations of resource use struggles. Mpiemu people in the Sangha basin have expressed the person ('mori') as the foundation of a category of historical and environmental knowledge called 'doli'. Much of 20th-century 'doli' concerns Mpiemu struggles with other Africans, explorers, French administrators and concessionary companies, the Central African Republic State, and conservationists over access to and use of forest resources. The essay first untangles different Mpiemu notions of 'mori' and their relationship with 'doli'. In tracing historical changes in the Sangha basin and their effects upon various aspects of the person, it then argues that Mpiemu conflicts over changing resource access and allocation have also been struggles over the historical, cultural meanings of the person. It shows that colonization had a crucial impact upon the generation of the person and the relationship between personhood and the environment, and these changes had gender, generational, and ethnic implications. The interventions of Christian missionaries in particular reworked Sangha basin environments and aimed to reshape the agency of persons within these environments. Mpiemu people coped with these interventions by grafting new notions of the person onto older ones, which were intimately related to 'doli'. Notes, ref.