Hunter Gatherer Research

The Baka symbolic landscape as a memory process

Hunter Gatherer Research (2015), 1, (2), 225–246.

Abstract

In the Jengi ceremony of the Baka (southern Cameroon), words used as names for spirits or with reference to the sound of a hunting amulet, the performance of the Jengi mask and its dance steps evoke a symbolic landscape. This landscape is made up of ‘anthropological places’ that, referring to more or less precise geographical locations, can be identified owing to their ecosystemic and sonorous aspects and to regional distinctions through toponyms as well as dialectal, ethnoecological variants. The variable degree of precision assigned to these anthropological places reflects the intensity of the relationships between ritual specialists who come from various regions to take part in a ceremony. A dynamic process is at work among the open anthropological places. This place-making occurs in an abstract manner as a dynamic memory process in contrast with the principle of commemorations or memorials that take the form of visible, stable, shrines, steles or sacred groves.

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Joiris, Daou V.