Identity, subjectivity and natural resource use: how ethnicity, gender and class intersect to influence mangrove oyster harvesting in The Gambia

Lau, Jacqueline D., and Scales, Ivan R. (2016) Identity, subjectivity and natural resource use: how ethnicity, gender and class intersect to influence mangrove oyster harvesting in The Gambia. Geoforum, 69. pp. 136-146.

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Environmental policies have paid increasing attention to the socio-cultural dimensions of human–environment interactions, in an effort to address the failures of previous 'top-down' practices which imposed external rules and regulations and ignored local beliefs and customs. As a result, the relationship between identity and resource use is an area of growing interest in both policy and academic circles. However, most research has treated forms of social difference such as gender, ethnicity and class as separate dimensions that produce distinct types of inequalities and patterns of resource use. In doing so, research fails to embrace key insights from theories of intersectionality and misses the key role of space and place in shaping individual and group subjectivities. In this paper we investigate how multiple types of identity influence resource use and practice among a group of women oyster harvesters in The Gambia. We find that oyster harvesting is shaped by the confluence of an aversion to stigmatised waged labour; gendered expectations of providing for one's family; and an historically informed and spatially bounded sense of ethnicity. Drawing on the concept of contact zones, we show how new interactions and intra-actions between previously isolated groups of oyster harvesters have broadened conceptions of ethnicity. However, we find that new subjectivities overlay rather than replace old clan alliances, leading to tensions. We argue that new contact zones and emerging subjectivities can thus be at once uniting and divisive, with important implications for natural resource management.

Item ID: 48432
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9398
Funders: Royal Geographical Society, Institute of British Geographers, University of Cambridge, Cambridge Commonwealth Trust
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2017 01:31
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4406 Human geography > 440699 Human geography not elsewhere classified @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410499 Environmental management not elsewhere classified @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 50%
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