Nature, landscape and ecology in Africa

Africa e Mediterraneo n. 83 (2/15)

The uncontaminated and empty African landscapes – idealized in many exotic images and used in different contexts, like the tourism industry – are endangered by the increase of pollution, while political deficiencies and internal and external conflicts add to the worsening of the situation.

Building on this image, the Europeans arriving to the African continent since the first Portuguese explorations perceived it as a terra nullius to be occupied, shaping and implementing colonial and post-colonial practices based on such conception. African writers have been working at length to elaborate an alternative idea of the African natural resources and landscapes, one that could be less idealized and more concretely connected to the needs of the people; at the same time, several researches in the fields of linguistics and anthropology have shed light on unexpected aspects of the concept of Nature in the cultures of the continent.

The new dossier of the journal Africa e Mediterraneo tries to analyse in depth the roots of the Western conception, through a connection with the old but still present debate on Orientalism, which today is being revived by the so called “new Orientalisms”, that take the shape of blunt and self-pitying discourses on ecology that should purportedly defend the natural resources of a continent that, according to them, would not be able to defend itself.

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