What does domestication mean for a Saharan oasis date palm?
by Vincent Battesti
Should be published, if everything goes well, in the Human Ecology journal in 2014.
ISSN 0300-7839 (Print) 1572-9915 (Online)
Work in progress.
To be continued. (…)
Local populations of the Sahara do owe their presence in these arid environments to the date palm, but the converse is equally true. This age-old cohabitation between different Saharan societies and the Phœnix dactylifera L. resulted in the domestication of this key-plant, a domestication understood as a long domesticating process which outcome is the plant we know today. But notwithstanding this long coevolution, it seems domestication on the fieldwork has also to be understood as a taming process, an ongoing process, symbolically (see Battesti 2004, for Djanet Tuareg oasis), but also in very practical terms, by managing an in situ pool of “wild” genes through the presence of seedling and feral date palms, whose presence and importance in the oases has maybe been underestimated by the research so far. To define thsi doemstication of the date palm in the Sahara, I will need to consider the articulation of different scales of space, from the inner oasian garden to the network of Saharan oases.