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From Avatar to Reality: Development, Environment and the Representation of Cameroonian Pygmies

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This article discusses the challenges facing indigenous peoples when external interventions are conducted in their territories. Using a discourse analysis approach, it shows how indigenous peoples are constructed by groups pursuing diverging interests. Focusing on the case of Cameroonian Pygmies, three discourses are studied: the conservationist, the development and the pro-indigenous peoples discourses. The result of the analysis shows how indigenous peoples are represented and which values and norms stand out in discourses. It highlights how the construction of one’s own reality can advantage or disadvantage groups of peoples: Pygmies represent a threat to the environment for environmentalists, they are poor for development actors, and they are above all mistreated for those defending their rights. The underlying theme is the transition to ‘modernity’, its inevitability or imposition, as well as the resistance and adaptation of indigenous peoples to external influences.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK


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