Ruling Nature, Controlling People
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Recent nature conservation initiatives in Southern Africa such as communal conservancies and peace parks are often embedded in narratives of economic development and ecological research. They are also increasingly marked by militarisation and violence. In Ruling Nature, Controlling People, Luregn Lenggenhager shows that these features were also characteristic of South African rule over the Caprivi Strip region in North-Eastern Namibia, especially in the fields of forestry, fisheries and, ultimately, wildlife conservation. In the process, the increasingly internationalised war in the region from the late 1960s until Namibia's independence in 1990 became intricately interlinked with contemporary nature conservation, ecology and economic development projects. By retracing such interdependencies, Lenggenhager provides a novel perspective from which to examine the history of a region which has until now barely entered the focus of historical research. He thereby highlights the enduring relevance of the supposedly peripheral Caprivi and its military, scientific and environmental histories for efforts to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which apartheid South Africa exerted state power.



Publié par
Date de parution 17 septembre 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9783906927015
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 9 Mo

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Ruling Nature, Controlling People
Ruling Nature, Controlling People Nature Conservation, Development and War in North-Eastern Namibia since the 1920s
Basel Namibia Studies Series 19
Basler Afrika Bibliographien 2018
This work was accepted as a PhD thesis by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Zu-rich in the spring semester 2017 on the recommendation of the Doctoral Committee: Prof Dr Gesine Krüger, University of Zurich (main supervisor) and Prof Dr Michael Bollig, University of Cologne.
©2018 The authors ©2018 The photographers ©2018 Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Basler Afrika Bibliographien Namibia Resource Centre & Southern Africa Library Klosterberg 23 PO Box 4051 Basel Switzerland
All rights reserved.
Efforts were made to trace the copyright holders of illustrations and maps used in this publication. We apologise for any incomplete or incorrect acknowledgements.
Cover image:Former Bu⁝allo Base in the Bwabwata National Park Photographer: Sabine Hiller
ISBN 978-3-906927-00-8
ISSN 2234-9561
Forewordby Maano Ramutsindela
1 Introduction Historiographical Landscapes Constituting an Archive of the Caprivi Structure of the Book
2 Nature and Development before 1965Creating an Image of Abundant Nature and Peace What to Do with the Caprivi? 1915–1939 Leslie Trollope and the Caprivi’s ‘Distinctiveness’, 1939–1952 Putting Caprivi on South Africa’s Map, 1945–1966 Odendaal Commission, 1962–1964 The Caprivi in the Aftermath of the Odendaal Commission Summarising Early South African Rule
3 Nature and War (1965–1980s)Geographies of Science, Nature and WarLiving and Working in the Caprivi Protecting Rivers and Forests Summarising Environmental Interventions in the Context of War
4 Wildlife and War (1975–1990) The Diminishing Wildlife Populations in the Caprivi Saving Wildlife? The Proclamation of National Parks in the 1980sTowards Post-colonial Wildlife Conservation
5 Nature and Peace? The Caprivi after Independence Narratives of Development
 1  4 22 31
32 36 43 56 63 73 81 86
 88  89  98  111  126
 128  129  137  158  170
 173  175  188
List of Figures and Maps
 203  217  223
Mapping and Bordering in Conservancies and Peace Parks Nature and Violence Summarizing Narratives of Violence and Development
The 21st century is witnessing the revival of war talk in nature conservation. This talk comes from di⁝erent sources, including the nature conservation lobby group and the secu-rity establishment. The conservation lobby group made up of ecologists, conservationists, government agencies, donors, philanthropists and so on are concerned with the high rate of biodiversity loss. Accordingly, they have declared war for conservation, which means wag-ing war on anything and anybody who threatens biodiversity or contributes to its decline. In this war talk, war has amongst others been declared on alien species that threaten, say, indigenous forests and sources of freshwater. Nowhere is this war talk more pronounced than in the decline in wildlife, especially elephants and rhinos. While concerns with the decline in biodiversity arose from the need to ensure the integrity of ecosystems and the health of the planet, there has been a shift towards seeing the loss of biodiversity as a threat to national and global security. At the end of the Cold War, the security establishment in powerful countries such as the United States began to draw the links between the deterioration of the environment and 1 national security. The reasoning is as follows: environmental degradation leads to scarcity of resources that in turn become a recipe for con ict over scarce resources. Such con ict re-sults in mass migration that destabilizes nation-states, and therefore posing a risk to nation-al security. In this context national security has been rede⁞ned to include environmentally-induced risks to nation states. According to a similar logic, the decline in wildlife impacts on national as well as global security. The security establishment argues that wildlife becomes a security issue because illicit wildlife trade threatens national economies but also would ⁞-nance global terrorist organizations. Thus, the war on poaching is not limited to curbing the 2 loss of wildlife but is also integral to the war on terror. Thiswar by conservation as Du⁝ycalls it is ‘a proactive, interventionist militarized response that is spatially amorphous and extends well beyond protected areas and into the land and communities surrounding them’. Indeed, conservation areas around the world are becoming highly militarized. In South Af-rica’s Kruger National Park, which is a core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP), both the concentration of rhinos and the rampant rhino poaching have resulted in the GLTP becoming highly militarized. The GLTP is a premier peace park project, which has become a 3 war zone due to the violence that has ensued as a result of militarization . The militarization
1 2 3
Dably, S. (2009),Security and environmental change.Cambridge: Polity. Du⁝y, R. (2016), War, by conservation.Geoforum,69(2): 238–248. Büscher, B. and M. Ramutsindela (2016), Green Violence, Rhino Poaching and the War to Save Southern Africa’s Peace Parks.African Aairs,115(458): 1–22
of protected areas involves the recruitment and training of locals as the paramilitary but also as informants for intelligence networks involved in anti-poaching campaigns. Luregn Lenggenhager’s book,Ruling Nature, Controlling People: Nature Conservation, Development and War in North-Eastern Namibia since the 1920sreminds us that the conser-vation-security nexus, which is currently receiving growing scholarly attention, and that is also crucial to the conservation lobby group and the security apparatus, has a much longer history in Southern Africa. The book shows that this nexus should be understood as a sig-ni⁞cant part of the unfolding political drama. It con⁞rms that nature conservation does not take place in a political vacuum: ideas and practices of conservation derive their potency from prevailing ideologies and socio-political struggles. As the case study of the Caprivi shows, the quest for the control of nature and local people has spatial imprints that connect various places towards an ideologically and militarily determined future. The Caprivi is an isolated and remote region but its environmental, political and military history can only be fully understood within the broader South African sphere of in uence. Expressed di⁝er-ently, the Caprivi should be conceptualized within the wider historiographies of Southern Africa. It was an important geopolitical site for South Africa’s occupation of Namibia and for its battle against liberation movements in the region. The Caprivi region provided a platform on which apartheid South Africa exerted its power through the military, environmental science and the narratives of local economic de-velopment. These earlier narratives have been carried forward into present-day communal conservancies and transfrontier conservation projects. Current scholarship on Namibia’s communal conservancies celebrates them as innovative and as local development strate-4 gies. Though these conservancies have been subjected to scrutiny , their political history is often forgotten while not much attention is given to how apartheid-era nature conservation projects in the Caprivi form an important thread in the tapestry of peace parks in post-independence Southern Africa. Lenggenhager’s book takes issue with developmental nar-ratives of community-based natural resources management projects such as conservancies as well as those of peace parks. These narratives have long been used to incorporate local people into the ideology of the state and to weaken possible local resistance to conserva-tion projects. Local people have generally played a number of roles in nature conservation, including acting as informants, as wildlife guards, and as co-managers. The nature of their roles varied according to the type and dimensions of con ict in a particular nature conser-vation area.
Mosimane A.W. and J.A. Silva (2014), Boundary Making in Conservancies: The Namibian Expe-rience. In M. Ramutsindela (ed.),Cartographies of Nature: How Nature Conservation Animates Borders.New Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 83–111.
The challenge for the growing body of scholarship on the militarization of protected areas is twofold. First, there is a need to understand how this process unfolds under quite di⁝erent political conditions, and to identify what is common among military operations in conservation spaces across time. Second, the militarization of protected areas is under-pinned by a particular perspective of environmental science, which provides much of the data critical to the process of militarization. Data on the decline of the number of species and on the loss of habitats are important for e⁝ective conservation. The strategies adopted to deal with environmental problems however connect such data to political goals at local, national, regional and international levels. These goals complicate our understanding and also our analysis of the militarization of protected areas. Through its analysis of historical materials from the Caprivi, this book widens avenues through which we can overcome this.
Maano Ramutsindela, University of Cape Town
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