Hang Thi Thu Truong (PhD) is an anthropologist and Lecturer at the Faculty of Anthropology, USSH – VNU HCM. Her work focuses on the anthropology of development, tourism, and new religions. She has conducted research in the Mekong Delta, the Central Highlands of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Japan on the issues of negotiation of identity, agency, and the invention of tradition, particularly in the context of the intertwinement of local cultures and tourism. Currently, she is researching the local community’s responses to climate change, globalization, and the process of national integration. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Culas (PhD) is an anthropologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), ART-Dev (Actors, Resources et Territories in Development), Montpellier University, France. He studies the anthropology of relations between humans and nature, and the critical epistemology of scientific descriptions of conceptions and local uses of nature. He focuses on local knowledge and the ethno-history of natural protected areas in Vietnam, Madagascar, and France, with the aim of improving dialogue between local populations, authorities, and researchers. E-mail: email@example.com
Forest to Live/Forest to Manage: Knowledge, Narratives and Actions in Nui Chua National Park (Vietnam)
Abstract: Since the 2000s, studies of natural protected areas (NPAs) in Vietnam have uncovered significant disparities between the practices and expressions of local populations and the discourses disseminated by experts and managers. The recurring divergence in knowledge and worldviews among different social groups poses major challenges for managing these areas in a way that respects the well-being of the local populations and ensures the effectiveness of natural environmental protection and the sustainability of NPAs. Ethnographic studies of the conceptions and representations of the forest among the Raglai indigenous people and the management practices of the Nui Chua national park (Ninh Thuan province), conducted in 2020-2022, have given the authors insights into these gaps. The conceptions of the forest of the Raglai are intertwined with both practical and technical knowledge. They are also inscribed in local symbolic, mythological, spiritual, sensitive, and perceptible representations. ANP managers, on the contrary, conceive the forest as a technical entity with a primarily economic value whose protection is based on technical-scientific principles that are not rooted in local realities. While Raglai populations have precise knowledge of the conceptions and actions of national park managers, their viewpoints are not always aligned. In contrast, ANP managers exhibit limited awareness of the practices and conceptions of the Raglai, which they often attempt to transform. How can these two divergent conceptions of the natural world be reconciled through dialogue? An anthropological approach facilitates meaningful exchanges and negotiations.
Keywords: natural protected areas, local knowledge, environmental management, anthropology, Vietnam