Camille OLLIER, Université Lyon 2 / UMR 5133 Archéorient, France
Once we are interested in the way in which societies have shaped landscapes, we can contemplate another dimension of space and time: their lived and therefore narrative dimension.
In this work on the environmental representations of Diola farmers, we attempt to understand together the sub-current landscape trajectories (1980-2020), their materiality, their effects on land use, as well as the discourses that the main users of these landscapes produce on such trajectories. The memory of landscapes lies in the humans who make them or undergo environmental changes. A human lifetime is a long enough time to understand and narrate the environment. On the scale of three generations, these narratives circulate and are sometimes reworked. The memory of societies is never a fixed narrative, characterising a reference state of landscapes and human activities. On the contrary, these geographical discourses vary according to the individuals, their age and gender – justifying an ecofeminist approach. The way in which farmers tell themselves about the past landscapes - whether of the last season or of their childhood - is part of a topicality: the narratives of the past are only made in a continuous back and forth with the present, or even with a projected future. The past and the future are actualised in discourses that have effects on the present: as discourses interact with agricultural practices, the former, like the latter, influence landscape trajectories.
This work brings together two geographical methods: on the one hand, landscape analysis through the study of old photographs and diachronic mapping of land use; on the other hand, ethnographic surveys. The possibility of confronting several spatio-temporal realities emerges, so that "doing science" in landscape history does not only consist in observing it from afar - or from the overhang of the zenithal view - but also welcomes the discourses and practices of those who experience it daily.