Exile, camps, and camels: recovery and adaptation of subsistence practices and ethnobiological knowledge among Sahrawi refugees

G. Volpato

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

The study of how people adapt to social and environmental change is central to current theoretical understandings of human-nature relationships. There are recurrent cases in human history in which entire populations have been uprooted from the environments in which they live, where it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to maintain their ways of life including their modes of subsistence, social and ecological relations, knowledge, and culture. The ways in which such people exercise their collective and individual agency to recover and adapt their relations with nature and with each other must be addressed as the planet rapidly changes, given current prognoses about the emergence of environmental refugee populations on a massive scale. Refugees who have been forced to live in camps for long periods present important case studies of human agency and adaptation under such conditions. Refugee camps are places where people must engage with whatever limited resources are available, and where people confront major complex problems when attempting to establish new relations with their camp environments and maintain or revive relations with their homelands. If they succeed, refugees can partly free themselves from dependence on food aid and take their lives back into their own hands. The general objective of the study was to advance the understanding of humannature relationships in contexts of forced displacement and encampment by investigating the ways people living in refugee camps struggle to recover preexile subsistence practices and associated knowledge, while in the process adapting to new environmental conditions and social relations arising from their experience as refugees. It also sought to provide a preliminary theoretical framework for studying the human ecology and ethnobiology of refugees living in camps. Fieldwork was conducted among Sahrawi refugees in western Algeria, and involved collecting data on Sahrawi refugees’ agency toward the recovery and adaptation of traditional subsistence and other related material and cultural practices, as well as to understand associated changes in their ecological and social relations, and culture. Five case studies were selected: a general study of camel husbandry, culture and livelihoods, an ethnobiological study of traditional medicinal remedies and cosmetics, an ethnomedicinal study of the conceptualization of illness and change in related health beliefs, an ethnobotanical and cultural domain study of camel forage plants, and an ethnomycological and commodity study of desert truffles.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Howard, Patricia, Promotor
Award date20 Oct 2014
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789462570818
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fingerprint

exile
refugee
Social Relations
social ecology
cosmetics
Algeria
way of life
cultural studies
desert
Homelands
remedies
livelihood
commodity
environmental factors
illness
food
present
history
health
resources

Keywords

  • subsistence
  • livelihood strategies
  • refugees
  • displacement
  • indigenous knowledge
  • social relations
  • culture
  • environment
  • nomadism
  • pastoralism
  • ethnobotany
  • anthropology
  • western sahara
  • algeria

Cite this

@phdthesis{a07c829394464282a6c100e5fac92f13,
title = "Exile, camps, and camels: recovery and adaptation of subsistence practices and ethnobiological knowledge among Sahrawi refugees",
abstract = "The study of how people adapt to social and environmental change is central to current theoretical understandings of human-nature relationships. There are recurrent cases in human history in which entire populations have been uprooted from the environments in which they live, where it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to maintain their ways of life including their modes of subsistence, social and ecological relations, knowledge, and culture. The ways in which such people exercise their collective and individual agency to recover and adapt their relations with nature and with each other must be addressed as the planet rapidly changes, given current prognoses about the emergence of environmental refugee populations on a massive scale. Refugees who have been forced to live in camps for long periods present important case studies of human agency and adaptation under such conditions. Refugee camps are places where people must engage with whatever limited resources are available, and where people confront major complex problems when attempting to establish new relations with their camp environments and maintain or revive relations with their homelands. If they succeed, refugees can partly free themselves from dependence on food aid and take their lives back into their own hands. The general objective of the study was to advance the understanding of humannature relationships in contexts of forced displacement and encampment by investigating the ways people living in refugee camps struggle to recover preexile subsistence practices and associated knowledge, while in the process adapting to new environmental conditions and social relations arising from their experience as refugees. It also sought to provide a preliminary theoretical framework for studying the human ecology and ethnobiology of refugees living in camps. Fieldwork was conducted among Sahrawi refugees in western Algeria, and involved collecting data on Sahrawi refugees’ agency toward the recovery and adaptation of traditional subsistence and other related material and cultural practices, as well as to understand associated changes in their ecological and social relations, and culture. Five case studies were selected: a general study of camel husbandry, culture and livelihoods, an ethnobiological study of traditional medicinal remedies and cosmetics, an ethnomedicinal study of the conceptualization of illness and change in related health beliefs, an ethnobotanical and cultural domain study of camel forage plants, and an ethnomycological and commodity study of desert truffles.",
keywords = "bestaan, strategie{\"e}n voor levensonderhoud, vluchtelingen, verplaatsing, inheemse kennis, sociale relaties, cultuur, milieu, nomadisme, pastoralisme, etnobotanie, antropologie, westelijke sahara, algerije, subsistence, livelihood strategies, refugees, displacement, indigenous knowledge, social relations, culture, environment, nomadism, pastoralism, ethnobotany, anthropology, western sahara, algeria",
author = "G. Volpato",
note = "WU thesis 5885",
year = "2014",
language = "English",
isbn = "9789462570818",
publisher = "Wageningen University",
school = "Wageningen University",

}

Exile, camps, and camels: recovery and adaptation of subsistence practices and ethnobiological knowledge among Sahrawi refugees. / Volpato, G.

Wageningen : Wageningen University, 2014. 274 p.

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

TY - THES

T1 - Exile, camps, and camels: recovery and adaptation of subsistence practices and ethnobiological knowledge among Sahrawi refugees

AU - Volpato, G.

N1 - WU thesis 5885

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - The study of how people adapt to social and environmental change is central to current theoretical understandings of human-nature relationships. There are recurrent cases in human history in which entire populations have been uprooted from the environments in which they live, where it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to maintain their ways of life including their modes of subsistence, social and ecological relations, knowledge, and culture. The ways in which such people exercise their collective and individual agency to recover and adapt their relations with nature and with each other must be addressed as the planet rapidly changes, given current prognoses about the emergence of environmental refugee populations on a massive scale. Refugees who have been forced to live in camps for long periods present important case studies of human agency and adaptation under such conditions. Refugee camps are places where people must engage with whatever limited resources are available, and where people confront major complex problems when attempting to establish new relations with their camp environments and maintain or revive relations with their homelands. If they succeed, refugees can partly free themselves from dependence on food aid and take their lives back into their own hands. The general objective of the study was to advance the understanding of humannature relationships in contexts of forced displacement and encampment by investigating the ways people living in refugee camps struggle to recover preexile subsistence practices and associated knowledge, while in the process adapting to new environmental conditions and social relations arising from their experience as refugees. It also sought to provide a preliminary theoretical framework for studying the human ecology and ethnobiology of refugees living in camps. Fieldwork was conducted among Sahrawi refugees in western Algeria, and involved collecting data on Sahrawi refugees’ agency toward the recovery and adaptation of traditional subsistence and other related material and cultural practices, as well as to understand associated changes in their ecological and social relations, and culture. Five case studies were selected: a general study of camel husbandry, culture and livelihoods, an ethnobiological study of traditional medicinal remedies and cosmetics, an ethnomedicinal study of the conceptualization of illness and change in related health beliefs, an ethnobotanical and cultural domain study of camel forage plants, and an ethnomycological and commodity study of desert truffles.

AB - The study of how people adapt to social and environmental change is central to current theoretical understandings of human-nature relationships. There are recurrent cases in human history in which entire populations have been uprooted from the environments in which they live, where it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to maintain their ways of life including their modes of subsistence, social and ecological relations, knowledge, and culture. The ways in which such people exercise their collective and individual agency to recover and adapt their relations with nature and with each other must be addressed as the planet rapidly changes, given current prognoses about the emergence of environmental refugee populations on a massive scale. Refugees who have been forced to live in camps for long periods present important case studies of human agency and adaptation under such conditions. Refugee camps are places where people must engage with whatever limited resources are available, and where people confront major complex problems when attempting to establish new relations with their camp environments and maintain or revive relations with their homelands. If they succeed, refugees can partly free themselves from dependence on food aid and take their lives back into their own hands. The general objective of the study was to advance the understanding of humannature relationships in contexts of forced displacement and encampment by investigating the ways people living in refugee camps struggle to recover preexile subsistence practices and associated knowledge, while in the process adapting to new environmental conditions and social relations arising from their experience as refugees. It also sought to provide a preliminary theoretical framework for studying the human ecology and ethnobiology of refugees living in camps. Fieldwork was conducted among Sahrawi refugees in western Algeria, and involved collecting data on Sahrawi refugees’ agency toward the recovery and adaptation of traditional subsistence and other related material and cultural practices, as well as to understand associated changes in their ecological and social relations, and culture. Five case studies were selected: a general study of camel husbandry, culture and livelihoods, an ethnobiological study of traditional medicinal remedies and cosmetics, an ethnomedicinal study of the conceptualization of illness and change in related health beliefs, an ethnobotanical and cultural domain study of camel forage plants, and an ethnomycological and commodity study of desert truffles.

KW - bestaan

KW - strategieën voor levensonderhoud

KW - vluchtelingen

KW - verplaatsing

KW - inheemse kennis

KW - sociale relaties

KW - cultuur

KW - milieu

KW - nomadisme

KW - pastoralisme

KW - etnobotanie

KW - antropologie

KW - westelijke sahara

KW - algerije

KW - subsistence

KW - livelihood strategies

KW - refugees

KW - displacement

KW - indigenous knowledge

KW - social relations

KW - culture

KW - environment

KW - nomadism

KW - pastoralism

KW - ethnobotany

KW - anthropology

KW - western sahara

KW - algeria

M3 - internal PhD, WU

SN - 9789462570818

PB - Wageningen University

CY - Wageningen

ER -