West, Colin Thor (2009). Domestic Transitions, Desiccation, Agricultural Intensification, and Livelihood Diversification among Rural Households on the Central Plateau, Burkina Faso. American Anthropologist, 111(3)
Understanding how and why domestic groups alter their function and form has long been a theme within anthropology. Numerous accounts have detailed the processes that drive household transformations and their underlying mechanisms. Mostly, these studies describe how domestic groups fission and fuse between extended and nuclear forms. In recent years, scholars have emphasized that these transformations should be understood within larger contexts of social and environmental change. Mossi communities on the Central Plateau of Burkina Faso provide an excellent opportunity to explore such processes because the large extended households documented 30 years ago were predicted to decline and eventually disappear. In this study, I examine dynamics of household transformations and test the validity of this prediction. I use perspectives from sustainability science and computer-simulation modeling to understand how regional desiccation, agricultural intensification, and livelihood diversification articulate with domestic transitions.
West, Colin Thor