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Du pouvoir des génies au savoir scientifique: Les métamorphoses de la lagune Ebrie (Côte d'Ivoire) (From Genii's Power to Scientific Knowledge: Metamorphoses of the Ebrie Lagoon)

François Verdeaux
Cahiers d'Études Africaines
Vol. 26, Cahier 101/102, Milieux, histoire, historiographie (1986), pp. 145-171
Published by: EHESS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4392028
Page Count: 27
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Du pouvoir des génies au savoir scientifique: Les métamorphoses de la lagune Ebrie (Côte d'Ivoire) (From Genii's Power to Scientific Knowledge: Metamorphoses of the Ebrie Lagoon)
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Abstract

In precolonial times as well as today, the riverine people's perception of the lagoon has been shaped by their representation of the milieu. Be it mythical or, more recently, scientific in form, this representation pertains in both cases to a pattern resting upon an unvarying procedure. Always entrusted to 'specialists'--be they priests or scientists--the cognizance of the milieu allows them to reduce its complexity to a few basic traits. Henceforth they can extract from the 'truth' a code regulating access to the lagoon and its resources. Specialized knowledge endows groups, categories and institutions not so much with ownership than with capacity and authority to define collective rules for the management of a naturally corporate estate. Recent hydrobiological researches in the lagoon inaugurate a new era. Insofar as, on the one hand, they are transferring to the State the former fishermen's capacity, while, on the other hand, defining the lagoon in terms of potential production, they are part of a refashioning of the relationships between men and the milieu. This is taking place nowadays despite the riverine people's opposition to this threefold role repartition--viz. knowledge, power and execution--whose synthesis they had successfully ensured in bygone days.

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