a new lesson

A new lesson

Books and Articles

Dainese E., 2014, “A New Lesson from the Territory of Bandiagara, Mali: the Dogon Landscape Transformation of the Cliff” in Cavallo R., Komossa S., Marzot N., Berghauser Pont M., Kuijper J. (eds.), “New Urban Configurations”, IOS Press – Delft University Press, Amsterdam, pp. 897-903 (ISBN: 978-1-61499-365-0)


Although much has been written about the architecture and culture of the Dogon people of Mali (Africa), little or nothing has been said about the anthropic transformation of the cliff territory they inhabit. For decades this people has attracted architects and researchers because of the architectural value of their built artifacts. Aldo van Eyck discovered them in 1960, and since then he had never stopped studying the “miracle of urban choreography” they produce. In 1964, Bernard Rudofsky inserted some Dogon examples in his introduction to “non-pedigreed architecture”. In the same year Herman Haan presented the first video on the architecture of the plateau, broadcasted by Dutch national television, and in the 70’s, his student Joop van Stigt, started building a series of structures to help the people of Bandiagara.

To grasp the meaning that lies within the anthropic changes of the Dogon territory, this particular research had to use multidisciplinary and integrated studies, which include, among others, architecture, anthropology, and natural and social sciences. This paper adds much more new information than those of the moderns of the 60’s. It highlights the deep-seated relationship between the Dogon people and the desert plateau and brings new light to the cultural structure that preserves, expands and renews the anthropic heritage and landscape design of the cliff. The study determines where the Dogon groups settle among the rocks, how they occupy the plateau and why they leave the land at the foot of the cliff for crops. Moreover, it sheds light on the system that guides the transformation of the territory, land sales and inheritances, and distinguishes between collective and individual management of land on all scale levels, from the village to the region.

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