Interrelationship between social and ecological processes among the Bedik of Eastern Senegal

  • Germana Chiusano studioso non affiliato/unaffiliated scholar


This contribution stems from field research carried out in the bedik community in the South-Eastern Senegal. It has the objective of investigating the relational and symbolic dimension between man and nature, between knowledge and territory, based on the recognition of the social, cultural and territorial practices and knowledge of this population.

The first section of the research is dedicated to the reconstruction of experience and habits, including the symbolic ones, concerning the use, access and exploitation of the natural resources which refer to territorial knowledge that show the – complex and multidimensional – relationship that man develops the natural environment. This attempts to demonstrate how this encourages certain kinds of “social” relations that are expressed through traditional ritual practices not only with the spirits of ancestors, but also and above all with the surrounding plant/animal world.

From the ancestral link between man-made and natural environments, between the village and the bush – whose traditional knowledge are a cultural and social elaboration and correspond to precise skills - stem overlaps and interactions between the social processes and the ecological processes that regulate these two worlds: actions, both symbolic and immaterial, but also of a material nature, that in the bedik society serve as regulative and normative functions. From here the need to investigate which cause and effect relationships underlie this kind of social device of management and control.

The elaboration of this research has invoked the contribution of certain methodological tools of visual analysis on which a geographical interpretation has been applied, namely a privileged view with which to observe the “territorial system” of the bedik society.


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Author Biography

Germana Chiusano, studioso non affiliato/unaffiliated scholar

Graduate of Architecture from the Polytechnic of Turin and PhD in Territorial Planning and Local Development from the Department of Territorial Sciences, Project and Policies (DIST), Faculty of Architecture, Polytechnic and University of Turin.

For many years she carried out scientific research activities as a research fellow at DIST of the Polytechnic, particularly empirical research during numerous missions to Western Africa: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger, Benin, Mauritania and Morocco.

She contributed to teaching as a expert on the subject (Teaching Assistant) on the following courses: Applied Geography and Development Cooperation and Political and Economical Geography, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Turin.

She has been a member of the Interdepartmental Research Centre of Western Africa Studies (CISAO) and of the Italian Association of Geography Teachers (AIIG).

She collaborated with the Developing Countries’ Technology, Architecture and Cities Research and Documentation Centre (CRD-PVS) of the Faculty of Architecture.

She carries out research activities on the following themes: participatory action research methodologies, traditional local knowledge, local development, development cooperation, preservation of protected areas, environmental policy and processes of comanagement.

She collaborates with the Centre of Africa Studies (CSA) of Turin and the European Institute of Design.


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