Moving Muddyscapes : Discourses, Practices and Policies regarding Mangrove Mudflats

Authors: Marie Christine Cormier Salem*, IRD
Topics: Anthropocene, Coastal and Marine, Africa
Keywords: Mangrove, Muddycapes, Values, Policies, Gender, Equity, Political Ecology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While international experts and politicians stress the importance of mangrove forests as sinks for carbon sequestration and promote large reforestation campaigns, most of the local people view mangroves as coastal wetlands with multiple values and associated uses. These contrasting representations lead to conflicts and inequalities. Through an approach in political ecology, I explore the concept of "muddyscape", analysing contrasting discourses and practices regarding mudflats and their resources (molluscs, prawn seeds, salt, lime, etc.) and the inconsistency of environmental policies. From my field work, conducted for more than 35 years in various mangroves (especially in West Africa, Madagascar and Southeast Asia) and the analysis of a vast corpus of publications, I show the long depreciation of mangrove swamps (or quagmires) through the colonial and postcolonial narratives, their rehabilitation from the 1970s, following the Ramsar Convention, and then, their building as heritage (e.g. World Heritage as cultural landscapes of Unesco) in recent decades. In a second section, I give the floor to women, who collect shells and study their counternarratives, their practices and their trajectories. I analyse their sense of place and finally, question their changing status in the context of globalization. In conclusion, I highlight the services and disservices of the mangrove and their interactions, and the issue of equity in the place-making. Last, I advocate for a comprehensive and inclusive framework, taking into account the value system of the mangrove as a whole (forest, creeks and rivers, mudflats, seafront).

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