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FW: [ANTHRO-L] sacred forests in Africa

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Anthro-L [mailto:Anthro-l@listserv.buffalo.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Sheridan Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2003 3:26 PM To:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 10, 2003
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Anthro-L [mailto:Anthro-l@...] On Behalf Of Michael Sheridan
      Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2003 3:26 PM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: [ANTHRO-L] sacred forests in Africa

      Hello everyone.  Please pass this along to anyone you know interested in the cultural values of African forests. 

      Thanks,  Michael





      African Ethnoforests:  Sacred Groves, Culture, and Conservation 

      (working title)


      A book of 150 to 200 printed pages (under 100,000 words) to be edited by


      Celia Nyamweru, Department of Anthropology, St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY 13617, USA.

      Michael Sheridan, Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA


      ·         We seek contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including, but not limited to: anthropologists, historians, political scientists, ecologists, foresters and geographers with case studies or synthetic reviews of African ethnoforests.  By ethnoforests we mean forests with cultural/religious significance, often popularly known as ‘sacred groves’.

      ·         In both academic and general discourse ‘sacred groves’ are taken to represent the precolonial social order, indigenous cultural values, and ‘indigenous’ environmental knowledge – in brief, ‘tradition.’ 

      • This book will go beyond such a static vision of ethnoforests in Africa by demonstrating the modernity and continuing relevance of these forests.  Ethnoforests are not ancient relics; rather, they are places where Africans continue to negotiate gender identity, political legitimacy, metaphysical exchanges, and terms of resource access.   The essays in African Ethnoforests will review regional variations in the forests’ social functions (e.g., West African secret societies, East African settlement sites and grave markers, and Southern African rainmaking shrines), ecological characteristics, and potential for biodiversity conservation and cultural self-determination.  We are also looking for essays that evaluate how factors such as colonial rule, tourism, agrarian change, postcolonial land tenure policies, and religious change have affected the forests’ status. 

      ·         The rapid destruction of tropical forests has become recognized as one of the world’s major environmental crises.  Many conservation initiatives are founded on a top-down approach to influencing environmental management, and even when planners pay lip service to the values of traditional/indigenous environmental knowledge systems and the importance of ‘listening to the elders’ the practical realities may be different. Alliances between western conservation groups and local people may be very narrowly based and indeed fragile, as a result of these different perceptions, priorities, and practices. We will be happy to consider essays that critically evaluate conservation initiatives for such forests.

      • We hope to put together a volume that, by comparing the historical trajectories, cultural meanings, and conservation values of African ethnoforests, will become the major source for understanding the forests’ complexities and potentials for both scholars and conservation practitioners. 
      • Contributions from North, West, Central, and Southern Africa will be particularly welcome, since the editors’ regional specializations are in East Africa (Nyamweru – Kenya; Sheridan – Tanzania).  The book will be in English, and we will be very interested to bring material from francophone West Africa to an Anglophone readership. 
      • Contributors should submit manuscripts (electronic or hard copy) of no more than 8000 words (about 32 pages in double-spaced 12 point Times New Roman font) by January 1st, 2004 to the editors at the following address:

      Michael Sheridan

      Department of Anthropology, University of Vermont

      Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


      By email:          michael.sheridan@...                    cnyamweru@...


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