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Questions raised in ethnoecology? Oasis illustrations

Lecture (in French) Jan. 2017

Vincent Battesti

Lecture (in French) given for the seminar “Anthropologie générale — À l’interface des sciences sociales et des sciences naturelles” coord. by Charles Stépanoff, Andrea-Luz Gutierrez-Choquevilca and Claudine Cohen, for « Paris Sciences et Lettres » Research University EPHE - EHESS - ENS, au Collège de France,
Paris (France), January 19th, 2017, 5pm-7pm.

This seminar offers an introduction to multidisciplinary approaches that address human in his biological and cultural dimensions in interaction with his environment. The dichotomy between nature and culture, which divides the study of the human being between a biological reality and a social reality, must be overcome if we wish to build “an anthropology, i.e. a system of interpretation that simultaneously takes into account the physical, physiological, psychological and sociological aspects of all behaviors” (Claude Lévi-Strauss).

 Questions raised in ethnoecology? Oasis illustrations
Original title: Des questions qu’on se pose en ethnoécologie ? Illustrations oasiennes


This lecture will present what ethnoecology, the study of the interactions (cognitive and practical) woven between human societies and their environment, has as its ambition, and this is illustrated by the concrete example of my own field research in anthropology on the Saharan oases. It is not only a question of establishing the ways in which human groups—the localized, the globalized and ourselves included—think about the organization of the world around them and its internal relations, their relations to it and to non-humans (a general ecology in fact), but also how these interactions are concretely practiced in given situations. We will see that a very materialistic approach to oasis gardens can lead to proposals that attempt to theorize the use of various socio-ecological resources, and we will see that a more theoretical (but field-based) approach to the modes of categorization of living things in an oasis can lead a contrario to very practical reinterpretations of local agrobiodiversity.

In a garden of the Aghurmi palm grove, in Siwa oasis (Egypt), May 12th, 2013.

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Vincent Battesti , "Questions raised in ethnoecology? Oasis illustrations " (online), Anthropoasis |, page published 19 January 2017 (consulted 23 May 2024), available on: