The bush is sweet: Identity and desire among the WoDaaBe in Niger
AuthorLoftsdóttir, Kristín, 1968-
AdvisorPark, Thomas K.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe dissertation focuses on the WoDaaBe Fulani in Niger, seeking to understand identity in a global context, analyzing streams of power and desire that have characterized the life of the WoDaaBe. The first part of the dissertation discusses expressions of WoDaaBe identities and desires in the contemporary world, as well as identifying the present situation of the WoDaaBe as one of great marginality. The WoDaaBe ethnic identity is created through processes of exclusion and inclusion within social and natural environments. The WoDaaBe perceive themselves as both separated from and a part of nature, depending on the context in which their identification is placed. They maintain strong boundaries from other ethnic groups in Niger, through specific visual markers of identity and by identifying WoDaaBe-ness as attached to certain moral qualifies that are combined with various social practices. The ideas of herding and control of one's feelings and desires remain key symbols in WoDaaBe social and ethnic identity. Many young WoDaaBe work in cities because they lack animals for basic subsistence in the bush, thus negotiating their identity in these new circumstances. The second part of the dissertation traces the history of WoDaaBe involvement in an interconnected world, showing that WoDaaBe have been connected to State and global processes for a long time. Various factors have led to an expansion of cultivated land, pushing herding communities further north and reducing available grazing land. While the WoDaaBe are becoming increasingly marginalized within the national economy of Niger, they have become popular in the West as symbols of the "native." Similarities can be observed between the dominant development ideology's conception of the typical herder and of the popular imagination of the WoDaaBe, characterizing them as unproductive, traditional and simple. The WoDaaBe representation is placed in a broad historical context of images of the Other, demonstrating that the encounters between WoDaaBe and Westerners take place within fields of unequal power relations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College