Configuring Local Resilience to Coastal Erosion in Togo

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The West African coast is prey to an erosion washing away communities’ houses, livelihoods, and ancestral temples. By studying locals’ lived experiences and state resilience efforts my research investigates environmental and social issues and possibilities emerging from this climate disaster. I focus on Aneho, a historic town and former site of transcontinental commerce during the precolonial period, and a center of the famous African Print Textile trade since the early colonial period—which today risks disappearing into the sea. While the situation is dire, Aneho has a long history of survival and resilience to, among others, local wars, the slave trade, and colonialism. Reproduced through collective festivals and rituals, these traits are deployed today in their fight against coastal erosion. The ontological turn shows how native knowledge in the Amazonia and beyond offer alternative ways of being and knowing; however, this literature fails to answer the fundamental question of how this form of knowledge can influence our collective response to the current global climate crisis and change our ways of living. By analyzing Aneho’s biopolitical terrain where both scientific and ontological knowledge intersect, my work addresses this question through the examination of power relations underlying the way policymakers and traditional leaders address coastal erosion. The intersections I am exploring generate new possibilities for local agency and innovation in the face of climate catastrophe while also enabling my work to address the uncanny absence of West Africa’s rich cosmology in the canon of ontological literature. My research essentially pushes environmental anthropology beyond its theoretical limits by engaging the field in a pragmatic conversation with public policy on resilient development.





Nomedji, Koffi Amegbo (2023). Configuring Local Resilience to Coastal Erosion in Togo. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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