Protected areas, sacred groves: renegotiating forest resources around the Comoé-Léraba reserve (Burkina Faso)
(The Nordic Africa Institute (Uppsala, Sweden))
Following the trend imposed by neoliberal forms of rule, natural conservation is being reoriented towards strategies promoting the participation of populations and the integration of local knowledge: this has involved new (and controversial) interpretations of ritual practices and symbolic representations in terms of an alleged "sacred ecology". Drawing from my work around the Comoé-Léraba reserve (Burkina Faso), I will show how recent participatory approaches, supported by cooperation programs, have created a hybrid field where issues of conservation and touristic exploitation intertwine with the reevaluation of rites and cultural practices, such as the importance of sacred groves and shrines for Komono (Khi) villages. This field has been the basis for reinforcing State control and creating a new ecological governmentality, but it is also a terrain of renegotiation of space, in a context where official and unofficial definitions of the forest and limitations of access to its resources continuously overlap.
Engaging resources: anthropological perspectives on the formation and contestation of natural resource environments