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Shaping Rules and Practice for More Justice. Local Conventions and Local Resistance in Eastern Senegal

Faye, Papa, Haller, Tobias, Ribot, Jesse
Human ecology 2018 v.46 no.1 pp. 15-25
development projects, forest conservation, forest policy, forests, managers, Senegal
Participatory programs and the transfer of the means of regulation to local populations can move local people to adopt government or development project agendas. They do not always succeed. When externally driven agendas fail to match local norms and practices, they are resisted and re-worked to accommodate local views, needs, and aspirations. In this interaction both the external agenda and local norms are contested and reconstituted in ways that follow the contours of the power asymmetries among local actors and external resource users, government agents and project managers. In the Tambacounda Region of Senegal, forest-dwelling villagers constantly negotiate forest use with more powerful urban-based merchants and transhumant herders. Government and international development programs have introduced ‘local conventions,’ written agreements among resource users, to reduce conflict over resource-use decisions. However, despite elaboration through participatory processes these conventions impose rules of management and use that contradict local environmental subjectivities; consequently, local people resist and rework introduced rules, and thus reconstitute them as, at least partly, their own.