Section C

Land Usage and Survival Strategies in Southwestern Africa

[Projects] [Research Area]

Section C consists of four separate projects which concentrate on processes of social and cultural change in arid southern Africa in this century. An unpredictable, arid climatic regime has been one of the major constraints of economic development (Project C1). The recent history of the region has been framed by annexation of land by white settlers (Project C8), peasantization and encapsulation of local small scale producers (Project C8) in tribal reserves and numerous violent conflicts.

In recent years change gained momentum again after Namibia achieved independence in 1990 and South Africa had its first free elections. All projects working under the umbrella of section C deal with strategies of local communities in their engagement with an unpredictable natural and political environment. Economic strategies are organized to minimize the risks of shortfalls in production and strained exchange relations. Mobility, flexibility and diversification  of economic strategies as well as far flung exchange networks are dealt with in the projects C1, C8. The project C1 research local cognitions and concepts of nature (e.g. folk taxonomies) and environmental processes (e.g. degradation) in forager (/Ani, Khoe) and pastoral societies (Herero, Himba). The flexibility of producing and income-generating strategies is characteristic for many local economies in Namibia, southern Angola and northern Botswana: (former) hunters and gatherers are opting for labour migration to mines and commercial farms. Rich sedentary farmers invest parts of their earnings into cattle herds which they manage with the help of hired sheperds. Pastoralists tend to engage in rainfed smallscale agriculture in order to lower their dependency on markets. The quest for key-resources has been crucial throughout the century. Local economies had to face competition from an exploitative state and an expansionist settler colony in recently from competing post-independence elites and warring factions. The historical dimension of local institutions and individual strategies are essential for all projects involved in C. The various and historically changing constructions of identities are analysed as innovative reactions to this scenario. These identities tie together historical experience and contemporary demands and project them into idealized concepts of self and social group.

Project C8 analyses the dynamics of identity construction in the face of colonial repression, recent attempts at democratization and the paradoxical development of economic marginalization and cultural globalization.


C1 Crisis Management and Risk Minimization among Pastoralists, Peasants, and (former) Foragers in southern Africa (Social and Cultural Anthropology)

C8 Ethnic Groups and Nationalities in a Period of Political, Economic and Social Change in Northern Namibia since 1915 (African Studies, History)

C10 Demographic, economic and social transformations in a multhethnic region in Northern Namibia

C11 Landscape and Memory in postcolonial Namibia

C13 Ideology, Practice and Power: Linking Land Reform, Conservation and Democratisation in Southern Africa

Research areas:
North-Namibia, North-Botswana, South-Angola, South-Africa

Research Areas Section C C1 C1 C1 C8 C1 C10 Link to Project E1 C11


[Main] [Section A] [Section B] [Section C] [Section E]