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Environmental conservation, tourism development and the dilemma of the indigenous Pygmy people in southeast Cameroon

Journal article
Authors Ngambouk Vitalis Pemunta
Asahngwa Constantine Tanywe
Rosaline Yumumkah Cumber
Published in International Journal of Tourism Anthropology
Volume 7
Issue 3/4
Pages 181-217
ISSN 1759-0442
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 181-217
Language en
Keywords reflective ethnicity; sustainable tourism; sustainable development; (eco-)tourism paradox; hunter-gatherers; pygmies; indigenous people; indigenous rights.
Subject categories Political Science, Social and Economic Geography, Economics and Business, Sociology, Arts, Languages and Literature


This paper examines the implications of the paradox implicit in the conflation of Pygmies and other forest-based peoples (Bantu farmers) as a single identity group by conservationists and tourism developers. These actors share a hardened image and a single field view of the Pygmies as “people of the forest” that must paradoxically be evicted to give way for neoliberal development activities. The paper demonstrates that while Pygmies have diversified livelihood trajectories, prevailing prejudicial views about their non-contamination by the tourist and academic industry persists. As agents, the Pygmies are however, simultaneously maintaining their identity while engaging in performatic performances through which they stage their authenticity (reflective ethnicity) for their own benefits. To avoid conflicts between protected areas and people, and ensure co-management, conservationists and eco-tourism developers should take note of the co-constitution of man-nature relationships, the intersection between economic and ecological justice as well as inter-group power dynamics among multiple stakeholders in local communities.

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