An Ethnography of Identity, Environment, and Development in Rural West Africa
Sacred Rice explores the cultural intricacies through which Jola farmers in West Africa are responding to their environmental and economic conditions given the centrality of a crop--rice--that is the lynchpin for their economic, social, religious, and political worlds.
Based on more than ten years of author Joanna Davidson's ethnographic and historical research on rural Guinea-Bissau, this book looks at the relationship among people, plants, and identity as it explores how a society comes to define itself through the production, consumption, and reverence of rice. It is a narrative profoundly tied to a particular place, but it is also a story of encounters with outsiders who often mediate or meddle in the rice enterprise. Although the focal point is a remote area of West Africa, the book illuminates the more universal nexus of identity, environment, and development, especially in an era when many people--rural and urban--are confronting environmental changes that challenge their livelihoods and lifestyles.