The Social Construction of Body in an Urbanization Context in Senegal

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: 304
Oral Presentation
Emmanuel COHEN , UMI 3189, France
Amadou NDAO , UMI 3189 "Environnement, Santé, Sociétés", France
Gilles BOETSCH , UMI 3189 "Environnement, Santé, Sociétés", France
Patrick PASQUET , UMR 7206 "écoanthropologie et ethnobiologie", France
Nicole CHAPUIS-LUCCIANI , UMI 3189 "Environnement, Santé, Sociétés", France
The Senegalese lifestyle mutation by an urbanization process associated with the combined effects of demographic, nutritional and epidemiologic transitions (Popkin, 1997), has consequences on body conceptions: evolution of body size standards, new perceptions of sickness-death, food and sexuality (Thomas, 1990) and emergence of a more demanding bodily appearance (Cohen, 2012), which need to be clarified.

To do this, we employed a cross analysis of qualitative and quantitative data (40 semi-structured interviews and two Factorial Correspondance Analysis – FCA 1 and 2 – on 593 subjects) by a comparative study implemented in a representative sample of Senegalese adults from Dakar and a village from the Kaolack region.

The qualitative study shows that sickness-death is less associated with persecutory from supernatural entities, widely questioned by more pregnant Islamic and modern values (Fassin, 1992). The food gradually loses its status as scarce resource, subject to the will of supernatural entities (De Garine, 1990). Finally, the reproductive sexuality is gradually replaced by islamic and modern guilty quests of pleasure (Biaya, 2001). Then, the FCA 1 shows an association between the representation that human cannot control the sickness (1), the food has a sacred status (2), the sexuality is restricted to the reproduction in marriage (3), the desire to use one’s body for the group (4) and the rural area (5) (p<0.001, n=387). The FCA 2 shows an association between the desire to control one’s health (1), eat alone for pleasure (2), wear modern clothes (tight) (3), the desire to have a thin body (4) and the urban area (5) (p<0.001, n=111).

This has implications in the relationship to health, diet and aesthetics which fully reconfigure the relationship to the body (size) : the big person is no longer associated with well-being (sickness-death/health), wealth (food/diet) and fertility (sexuality/aesthetics), but with dysfunction, idleness and sexual undesirability (Fischler, 2001).