“This book provides an excellent reference for refocusing conservation efforts in Africa, and a useful paradigm to apply wherever preservation requires balancing ecological values with social and economic interests.”
“The great strength of African Sacred Groves is in demonstrating that sacred groves simultaneously represent ecological, socio-political, and symbolic processes.”
Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa
“The essays in this volume provide an enlightening tour of the issues around conservation and sacred sites. They demonstrate the complexities of the issues linking such sites to globalization, communal control of local resources, and its potential difficulties, and changing social and cultural practices.”
African Studies Review
In Western scholarship, Africa’s so-called sacred forests are often treated as the remains of primeval forests, ethnographic curiosities, or cultural relics from a static precolonial past. Their continuing importance in African societies, however, shows that this “relic theory” is inadequate for understanding current social and ecological dynamics. African Sacred Groves challenges dominant views of these landscape features by redefining the subject matter beyond the compelling yet uninformative term “sacred.” The term “ethnoforests” incorporates the environmental, social-political, and symbolic aspects of these forests without giving undue primacy to their religious values. This interdisciplinary book by an international group of scholars and conservation practitioners provides a methodological framework for understanding these forests by examining their ecological characteristics, delineating how they relate to social dynamics and historical contexts, exploring their ideological aspects, and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses as sites for community-based resource management and the conservation of cultural and biological diversity.
Michael Sheridan is an assistant professor of anthropology at Middlebury College. More info →
Celia Nyamweru teaches in the Department of Anthropology and the African Studies Program at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. More info →
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For over two centuries, Western scholars have discussed African philosophy and culture, often in disparaging, condescending terms, and always from an alien European perspective. Many Africans now share this perspective, having been trained in the western, empirical tradition. Makinde argues that, particularly in view of the costs and failings of western style culture, Africans must now mold their own modern culture by blending useful western practices with valuable indigenous African elements.
The Struggle for Meaning is a landmark publication by one of African philosophy’s leading figures, Paulin J. Hountondji, best known for his critique of ethnophilosophy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this volume, he responds with autobiographical and philosophical reflection to the dialogue and controversy he has provoked.
Many students come to African history with a host of stereotypes that are not always easy to dislodge. One of the most common is that of Africa as safari grounds—as the land of expansive, unpopulated game reserves untouched by civilization and preserved in their original pristine state by the tireless efforts of contemporary conservationists.