Old Land-New Practices?
The Changing Face of Land and Conservation in Postcolonial Africa
11th – 14th September 2012, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
A joint initiative between Rhodes University, University of the Free State and University of the Witwatersrand.
Welcome to the website for Old Land – New Practices? The Changing Face of Land and Conservation in Postcolonial Africa. Here you will find comprehensive information about the conference and its organisers.
The Organising Committee would like to thank its advisory committee, the guest speakers, all delegates, Rhodes’ conference unit, the Mgcambele Community Centre and the Angus Gillis Foundation, and the hosting universities for their support and participation in making the conference a success.
We would very much appreciate it if you’d take a short time to answer a few questions that will help us assess the conference and reflect on the experience going forward. You can download the feedback questions here: OLNP feedback questions
Best Student Paper
Lennox Olivier’s paper RasTafari Bossiedokters and the Challenges of Transforming Nature Conservation in the Boland Area (L Olivier abstract)was selected as the best student paper, and will be included in the special edition issue of Journal of Contemporary African Studies planned for 2013.
Lennox is the managing director of the Cape Bush Doctors/Kaapse Bossiedokters Non-Profit Organisation based in Stellenbosch. He conceptualised this organisation under the guidance of the Western Cape People and Parks Steering committee chairperson (Cingiswa Mtabati) and secretary (Brian Damonse). It resulted as a direct outcome of his participant research conducted for his Honours and Masters in Sociology at Stellenbosch University. He completed his Honours degree (with distinction) in 2009, and his Masters earlier this year (2012). His Masters focused on epistemological tensions at the heart of ongoing difficulties between nature conservation and the practices of Boland indigenous healers, colloquially called ‘bossiedokters’. The organisation was created as conclusion for his thesis, with the main objective being the formalisation, protection and restitution of South African indigenous healers and their medicinal knowledge systems. He is a guest lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the University of Stellenbosch, focusing on sustainable development, indigenous knowledge, environment and politics. He is currently investigating how RasTafari practice and discourse in the Western and Northern Cape identify and claim linkages with precolonial KhoiSan indigenous knowledge systems. His research centers on the significance of medicinal plants and access to land as a decisive political and social resource in ongoing attempts at restitution and restoration of KhoiSan memory and identity. He aims to extend his studies to a PhD in environmental sociology, where he will be assessing the potential viability to increase environmental sustainability by emplacing indigenous knowledge and discourse central when designing and implementing community development projects.
Documents for download
About the conference
This conference was inspired by conversations amongst attendees of the Nature Inc. conference held at the Institute for Social Sciences (ISS) at The Hague in June 2011 interested in the complex issues surrounding land, conservation, and ‘security’ within an African context. It therefore aims to contribute to the development and sharing of knowledge and expertise with an explicitly pan-African focus. Specifically, it seeks to critically engage with the nexus between post-colonial land use changes and the development of conservation initiatives across the continent at both the theoretical and practical level with cognisance of their historical precedence.
“The ‘land issue’ is omnipresent across post-colonial Africa. It is a highly contentious and contested topic, which at times has proven explosive (Zimbabwe, Kenya), or else a persistent focus of identity politics (Tanzania, Sudan), or central to historically rooted struggles for equality and restitution (South Africa, Botswana). Yet, the legacy of colonial land use management from which these struggles are borne, continues to inform contemporary conservation policy practices. They are also conceptualised and legitimated by a fusion of international environmental and neoliberal market agendas and regional and national policy exigencies, framed by diverse socio-economic development challenges.
One of many ‘solutions’ borne of this conjuncture has been the spread of conservation and environmental protection strategies which promise to ‘deliver’ on the requisite national economic and environmental priorities in adherence to broader international and regional prerogatives. Such promises are bound to the success of market orientated strategies for the preservation of Africa’s biodiversity. Furthermore, they are tied to the commoditisation of wildlife and wild spaces, and the ‘mass production’ thereof in a range of state-owned, private or joint partnership ventures, including parks, farms and conservancies. The results are not yet fully comprehensible, but it is evident that the post-colonial echoes the colonial, and in this continuity conservation and environmental protection strategies may perpetuate historical insecurities through the alienation of local communities from land ownership and management practices.” (Conference concept paper, 2011.)
If you have any questions about the conference, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you as soon as possible.