Living the daily uncertainties in urban Burkina Faso
(University of Berne)
Paper short abstract:
The economic crisis in Burkina Faso – a seemingly never-ending story – has moulded since decades and is still moulding everyday life in Burkina Faso and entails the evolution of values, attitudes and practices which make everyday life manageable or at least somehow predictable. On the basis of ethnographic examples, this will be analyzed.
Paper long abstract:
Since decades uncertainties are part of everyday life in Burkina Faso and are moulding especially the life of the lower-income classes, but also the life of the middle-income classes (impoverishment as consequence of the debt crisis of the 1980ties, the structural adjustment programs of the 1990ties, the FCFA devaluation of 1994, the rising food prices since 2007). Despite economic growth since 2000 the impoverishment of large parts of the population persists. The dominating feeling of living in social insecurity is a part of daily life and demands the necessity of being prepared any time for uncertainties of every kind. This leads to the evolution of values, attitudes and practices which help to integrate the permanent insecurities in everyday life - thus to produce the ordinary. For instance flexibility is a part of it, but also the attitude of 'grasping at whatever is available in the present' (Johnson-Hanks 2005) or the production of meaning and interpretations to translate hazards into risks (Macamo 2008). On the basis of ethnographic examples of the last ten years research conducted in the lower-income class of Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, I will analyze how common habits are shaped by values, attitudes and practices, which women and men in face of permanent uncertainties developed to make everyday life manageable or at least somehow predictable.
Producing the ordinary in the face of crisis