Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Lehman College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Yale University
I, You, We, They: Forests of Identity in Southeastern Cameroon

This research on the Bangando is an essential complement to the existing anthropological literature on forest peoples. Anthropologists’ primary interest in “pygmy” culture has led to the erroneous assumption that foraging societies alone live in a privileged balance with their forest environment. The simplistic valuation of “foragers” as the true “forest people” (Turnbull, 1961), with the concomitant labeling of “farmers” as non-“indigenous” forest inhabitants, obscures the complexity of interethnic as well as ethnoecological relationships in forest settings. Rather than representing emic markers of ethnic identity, these facile categories of “forager” and “farmer” describe primary subsistence strategies utilized by forest communities, leading to inaccurate conclusions about the relationship between cultural identity and natural surroundings. By challenging these dichotomous categories used to describe forest dwellers, this research will reveal multiple strategies of forest resource management used by both Bangando “farmer” and Baka “forager” communities, as well as forms of mutual dependence, cooperation, and competition that characterize the social, economic, and political relationships among ethnic groups in the central African forest.