Forests of Belonging

9780295991054: Hardback
Release Date: 27th July 2011

9780295991061: Paperback
Release Date: 26th July 2011

20 illus., 7 maps

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 304

Series Culture, Place, and Nature

University of Washington Press

Forests of Belonging

Identities, Ethnicities, and Stereotypes in the Congo River Basin

Written by
Stephanie Karin Rupp
Series edited by
K. Sivaramakrishnan
Hardback / £79.00
Paperback / £23.99

Forests of Belonging examines the history and ongoing transformation of ethnic and social relationships among four distinct communities--Bangando, Baka, Bakwéle, and Mbomam--in the Lobéké forest region of southeastern Cameroon. By slotting forest communities into ecological categories such as "hunters" and "gatherers," previous analyses of social relationships in tropical forests have resulted in binary frameworks that render real-life relationships invisible and that have perpetuated correspondingly misleading labels, such as "pygmy." Through rich descriptive detail resulting from field work among the Bangando, Stephanie Rupp illustrates the complexity of social ties among groups and individuals, and their connections with the natural world. She demonstrates that social and ethno-ecological relations in equatorial African forests are nuanced, contested, and shifting, and that the intricacy of these links must be considered in the design and implementation of aid policies and strategies for conservation and development.


Introduction: Forests of Belonging
1. Paradigms: The Forest and Its People
2. Belonging: Ethnic Affiliations and Confluences
3. Spaces: Beyond Nature and Culture
4. Ambiguities: Interethnic Marriage and Descent
5. Tangles: Parallel Clans, Alliances, Rituals, and Collective Work
6. Identities: People in Changing Contexts
7. Contradictions: Identities, Opportunities, and Conflicts
Conclusion: Rethinking. Social Identities, Ethnic Affiliations, and Stereotypes

Glossary of Non-English Terms

Stephanie Rupp is assistant professor of anthropology at Lehman College, City University of New York.

Rupp's compelling ethnography and forceful analysis imply an attack on the apparent self—evidence of notions of identity all over the world.

Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam

Rupp's readable ethnography offers a compelling, convincing update to the anthropological literature on hunter-gatherers. Summing Up: Recommended.