Program INFRAPATRI mid-term workshop, Porto-Novo

20240111 182012Taking place from January 7 to 14, 2024, this week-long workshop in Porto-Novo was aimed at taking stock of research conducted under the INFRAPATRI program. "Knowledges and attachments to urban plants in Sub-Saharan Africa (Benin, Cameroun, Nigeria, Senegal)" funded by the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) from March 2021 to April 2025 and led by Emilie Guitard (CNRS/UMR Prodig). This workshop brought together most of the members of the multidisciplinary scientific team and artists present on the African continent.

The approach of the INFRAPATRI project is based on the notion of "heritage from below", allowing us to understand the relationship of city dwellers to plants in terms of memory and conceptions of the past, rarely recognised by institutional approaches to heritage conservation. Plants in the city, which cover multiple figures and spaces, are in fact used in a variety of ways based on practical or symbolic knowledge. Together, this knowledge and uses are produced by various urban collectives based on family, ethnic identity, religion, neighbourhood, profession or political representation. We formulate the hypothesis that they are preserved and transmitted through different channels at the basis of various forms of urban identifications. The aim of the project will be to identify these forms of heritage from below emanating from plural relationships to plants, and to analyse them in the light of past and present institutional attempts to patrimonialise urban plant entities and groupings. Learn more about the project.

The workshop was made up of different times:

  • exchanges by site (January 7)
  • presentations on various program themes, aimed at initiating and fuelling exchanges on these themes among all participants
  • discussions of presentations and exchanges by discussants from outside the program (Barbara Morovich and Dominique Somda)
  • program-related visits in Porto-Novo, led by local team members
  • discussion of initial program results with Porto-Novo residents and municipal institutions (January 12)
  • planning of further research within the framework of the program and of the scientific events and publications envisaged

Indicative bibliography for further readings on the topic of this workshop:

  • Bondaz, Julien (2011), "Parcs urbains et patrimoine naturel en Afrique de l'Ouest. De la période coloniale au cinquantenaire des Indépendances", Géographie et cultures, (79):67-87.
  • Ernstson, Henrik and Sverker Sörlin (2019), "Toward Comparative Urban Environmentalism: Situating Urban Natures in an Emerging "World of Cities"", In Ernstson, Henrik, and Sverker Sörlin, Grounding Urban Natures. Histories and Futures of Urban Ecologies, MIT Press, Cambridge: 3-53
  • Gandy, Matthew (2022), "Urban political ecology: a critical reconfiguration", Progress in Human Geography, 46 (1):21-43
  • Gentry Kynan, Smith Laurajane (2019), 'Critical heritage studies and the legacies of the late-twentieth century heritage canon', International Journal of Heritage Studies.
  • Gervais-Lambony, Philippe (2001), " La citadinité, un arbre dans la forêt ou comment un mot peut en cacher d'autres.... ", In Dorier-Apprill E., Vocabulaire de la ville: notions et références, Editions du Temps, Paris : pp. 92-108.
  • Hawkins, Harriet (2015), "Creative geographic methods: knowing, representing, intervening. On composing place and page", Cultural Geographies, 22 (2):247-268.
  • Iain James McPherson Robertson, 2015, "Hardscrabble Heritage: The Ruined Blackhouse and Crofting Landscape as Heritage from below", Landscape Research, 40:8, 993-1009
  • Juhé-Beaulaton, Dominique (2009), "Un patrimoine urbain méconnu. Arbres mémoires, forêts sacrées et jardins des plantes de Porto Novo (Bénin)", Autrepart, 51 (3):75-98

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List of participants:

  • Zansou 5cinq, visual artist
  • Saskia Cousin, Université Paris Nanterre
  • Gael Daavo, visual artist
  • Mamoudou Deme, IFAN/UCAD
  • Stéphane Eloundou, visual artist
  • Elieth Eyebiyi, LASDEL
  • Sébastien Jacquot, Université Paris 1/UMR EIREST
  • Rémi Jenvrin, Université Paris 1/CNRS/UMR Prodig
  • Murielle Kenne, LaboSyste/Université Yaoundé 1
  • Mathieu Gueye, IFAN/UCAD
  • Wagane Gueye, visual artist
  • Emilie Guitard, CNRS/UMR Prodig
  • Pauline Gluski, IRD/UMR Prodig
  • Barbara Morovich, IFRA Nigeria
  • Moussa Ndiaye, visual artist
  • Obáyomí A. Anthony, University of Illinois, visual artist
  • Christine Raimond, CNRS/UMR Prodig
  • Dominique Somda, HUMA/UCT
  • Sara Tassi, Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Thierno Bachir Sy, IFAN/UCAD
  • Manoel Lauriano, photographer
  • Victo Boton Yélognissè, Catholic University of Madagascar


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