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By Laurence Douny

In her shut ethnography of a Dogon village of Mali, Laurence Douny exhibits how a microcosmology develops from people's embodied day-by-day and formality perform in a panorama of shortage. seen throughout the lens of containment perform, she describes how they take care of the dearth of fabric goods principal to their lives—water, earth, and millet. Douny’s research is a crucial addition to ecological anthropology, to the research of West African cultures, to the knowledge of fabric tradition, and to anthropological conception.

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Extra info for Living in a Landscape of Scarcity: Materiality and Cosmology in West Africa

Sample text

Consequently, my observations of Dogon daily and seasonal activities that concern acting on the materiality of the landscape through walking, cultivating and harvesting, sacrificing, recycling waste, building, storing, and cooking as I experienced them result in a sequence of operation about making and doing containers, which as unifying principle in some place (Chapters 10 and 11) materialise in two chaînes opératoires. These intertwined sequences reveal that the life cycle of people is meshed with the life cycle of the natural and material environment in which they live.

On a different scale, the built compound features made of earth, stone, and wood that are extracted from the surrounding landscape shelter people, resources, objects, and other forms of containers. For instance, gendered mud granaries, which I describe in Chapter 10, are used to store and to preserve food resources as well as personal belongings, including ancestor shrines, which also fit within the category of receptacles. These are solid and inverted receptacles that receive sacrificial substances in exchange for God’s benefits.

Chapters 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 concern Dogon life within the home or compound. Chapter 6 is the articulation of the book; it deals with the weather that transcends the entire landscape, and it focuses on the rain as the substance of the landscape that stands at the core of the Dogon cosmology and therefore at the core of this book. Chapter 3, which deals with the Dogon space divisions of the bounded territory, acts as a container for Chapters 4 and 5, which concern, respectively, the inside and the outside of the village.

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