Olga F. Linares
Staff Scientist Emeritus
Address: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
ATT: Olga F. Linares
9100 PANAMA CITY PL
Washington DC 20521-9100
Telephone: +507 212-8083
FAX: +507 212-8148
Cultural ecology of New World and African tropics; social organization of agrarian systems.
The interface between ecology, political economy, migration and the changing dynamics of food production among rural peoples living in tropical regions.
I have been engaged in a long-term study of the causes and consequences of major changes in the diverse rice-growing economies of the Jola, a rural population of farmers living in the Lower Casamance region of southern Senegal, West Africa. The Jola, who number about 400,000, comprise several subgroups who differ markedly among themselves in their agrarian practices, and the social organization of production. In communities north of the Casamance river, rice is grown for subsistence and groundnuts (peanuts) for trade. Whereas here, in the Kajaamutay, both men and women grow rice, but only men plant groundnuts, in the Kalunaye rice is solely women’s work, and groundnuts are a male crop. South of the river, in the Esudadu region, both genders cultivate rice exclusively. From self-sufficient farmers producing significant surpluses of rice and other grain crops the Jola have in the last two decades become commercial farmers who depend on imported rice to feed themselves. Significant numbers of Jola have migrated to secondary cities and towns, where they practice urban farming of vegetables and tree crops. Changes in agrarian practices are a product of the Jola's belated insertion into the world economy and a consequence of the prolonged drought that has affected the region.
A second research interest focuses on the multiple functions that kitchen or home gardens (small, cultivated backyard plots) play in the household economy of rural and urban peoples. Home gardens have attracted the attention of geneticists and conservations because they are important reservoirs of crop genetic diversity. In tropical areas of the developing world, small-scale farmers continue to select for qualities that enhance the productivity and resistance of cultivars, thus creating dozens of new landraces. I have studied the role of urban and peri-urban home gardens in agrobiodiversity conservation in the secondary city of Ziguinchor, the capital of Lower Casamance, Senegal. In situ conservation of local landraces of important cultivars is a much more dynamic and ongoing process than ex-situ conservation of seeds in a "gene bank".
Education and Degrees
B.A. in Anthropology from Vassar College in 1958
Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1964.
Linares, O.F. 1998. Kuseek and Kuriimen: Wives and Kinswomen in Jola Society. Canadian Journal of African Studies 22(3): 472-490.
Linares, O.F. 1992. POWER, PRAYER AND PRODUCTION: the Jola of Casamance, Senegal. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Hladik, C.M., Hladik, A., Linares, O. F., Pagezy, H., Semple, A. and Hadley, M. (eds.) 1993. TROPICAL
FORESTS, PEOPLE AND FOOD: BIOCULTURAL INTERACTIONS AND APPLICATIONS TO DEVELOPMENT. Man in the Biosphere (MAB) Series, Vol. 13: UNESCO.
Linares, O.F. 1993. Time, meaning and the restructuring of social relations: old and new crops among the Jola of Senegal. In: Configurations of Power in Complex Society: Holistic Anthropology in Theory and Practice. J. Henderson and P. Netherly, eds., Ch.7: pp.160-180. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Linares, O.F. 1994. Comercio y Producción Agrícola en el Istmo (1823-1833). Memoria del Ier Congreso Nacional del Patrimonio Cultural, Tomo A, pp. 263:277. Panamá: Editorial del Instituto Nacional de Cultura.
Linares, O.F. 1996. Cultivating Biological and Cultural Diversity: Urban Farming in Casamance, Senegal. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 66 (1), 104-121.
Linares, O.F. 1997. Diminished rains and divided tasks: rice growing in three Jola communities of Casamance, Senegal. In: The Ecology of Practice: Food Crop Production in SubSaharan West Africa, Nyerges, Endre ed. New York: Gordon & Breach Publishers, pp. 39-76.
Linares, O.F. 1997. Agrarian Systems. In: Middleton, John (ed.). Encyclopedia of Africa South of the Sahara, Vol. I, pp. 17-22. New York: Simon & Schuster MacMillan.
Linares, O.F. 1998. Rice production and the drought: Jola communities in Lower Casamance, Senegal. For: Chéneau-Loquay, A. and A. Leplaideur, eds. Quel Avenir pour les Rizicultures_ I'Afrique de l'Ouest. Bordeaux, France: CEGET.
Linares, O.F. 2000. Creating cultural diversity: tropical forests transformed.In: Nature and Human Society: The Quest for a Sustainable Future. P.H. Raven (ed.) Proceedings of 1997 Forum on Biodiversity Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, March 2000, pp 420-434.