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Seeing like a State Agent: The Ethnography of Reform in Senegal’s Forestry Services

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the recent evolution and daily functioning of the forestry services in Senegal. It refers to the internal debates that inflamed passions among the foresters, who had been confronted with two recent and apparently contradictory reforms: decentralization and militarization. These reforms appeared to aggravate the dilemma between a role involving the protection of environmental resources using repression and penalties (echoing the colonial forestry policy) and a new 'participative' role, which would transform the forestry agents into technical advisers of the producers and the local elected representatives. The forestry service offers a fruitful point of access for an ethnographic exploration of the everyday functioning of the state in Africa. The chapter considers military reform as the main theme so as to shed light on some of the provisional results of ethnographic work on the forestry department.

Keywords: Africa; ethnography; forestry services; militarization; Senegal



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