Farce of the Commons: Humor, Irony, and Subordination through a Camera’s Lens

This report by Jesse Ribot is the second one to be published in ICLD’s Research Report series. Ribot argues convincingly that local democracy has a material basis and thus stresses the need for local governments to have both decision making powers and adequate funds to respond to local people’s needs.

This report emerged from the showings of two films about democratic decentralization of forestry in Senegal and depicts a scenario when the above are not present and elected local authorities are left delegitimized and demoralized. Despite democratic decentralization of natural resource management, the elected rural councils have little influence over the management of forests or the allocation of rights to lucrative forest activities.

Ribot effectively introduces film, and more importantly the post-screening discussions, as a mediating tool for serious democratic debates. By reading this report you will gain insight into how the screenings allowed discussion to take place in a much contested area, natural resource management, but also how the film itself resulted in increased demands by peasant producers to seek a share of the sector’s great profits. Moreover it inspired more women to want to engage in production.

Full research report