Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Marco BASSI, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthroplogy

The notion of landscape is increasingly getting attention in international programs cutting across different domains. Yet, different actors tend to understand the concept in different ways. In this presentation, I will introduce the anthropological approach, focusing on the interaction between human communities and their environment. The ordinary productive activities take place with modalities that are specific to the place and are based on local perceptions and knowledge. Human action shapes the environment and produces marks that become symbols of collective identities. This constructivist conception differs from objectivist views, as prevailing, for instance, in natural sciences and in biodiversity conservation, whereby the landscape corresponds to a discrete, physical and ecological territory. I will also present an overview of Ethiopian landscapes that are particularly valuable with reference to identity issues and biodiversity conservation, with a brief discussion of the relevance of indigenous and local knowledge and of the methodological challenges in studying and valorizing it in agro-ecological development.