The deep history of the ficus thonningii bl. in central Africa: Ontology, settlement, and environment among lower congo peoples (early times to ca. 500 B.C.E.)

Marcos Leitão De Almeida*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Recent studies on the relationship between human migration and environment in ancient Central Africa have made important advances in understanding the relational development among Bantu-speaking settlers, fruit trees and expanding savanna-corridors due to climate-induced destruction of the Central African rainforest during the last millennia B.C.E. However, the persistent lack of a broader set of reconstructed vocabularies about human-environment relations prevented scholars from incorporating in their explanations the ways in which people in the past perceived their own surroundings as they moved to new lands. Using historical linguistics, cognitive linguistics and comparative ethnography, this chapter discusses how the Ficus thonningii Bl., a native species of Central Africa, was used in the ritual for the foundation of new villages to establishing the condition for engagement between newcomers and terrestrial spirits of newfound lands. Moving beyond modernist assumptions about the separation between human and nature and mind and body, it shows how a host of embodied practices and cognitive processes marked the tree as a central entity in local ideologies. Focusing on how Lower Congo peoples engaged with the tree in the first millennia B.C.E., such an approach offers new insights into the relation between ontology and environment in an important region of Central Africa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHistorical Archaeology and Environment
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Pages181-205
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9783319908571
ISBN (Print)9783319908564
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • Bantu expansion
  • Central africa
  • Cognitive linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Lower congo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)

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