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Radboud University Nijmegen (2021)

Battles over boundaries and belonging : Violence, wilderness and spatial reconfigurations in the conversion of farm landscapes in KwaZulu-Natal

Josefsson, J.B.

Titre : Battles over boundaries and belonging : Violence, wilderness and spatial reconfigurations in the conversion of farm landscapes in KwaZulu-Natal

Auteur : Josefsson, J.B.

Université de soutenance : Radboud University Nijmegen

Grade : Doctoral Degree in Geography 2021

Résumé partiel
This study investigates the socio-political and spatial dynamics of conversions of farms to wilderness landscapes and game farms in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa. Farm conversions increased in the 1990s alongside the expansion of the wildlife industry and have shaped the rural landscape significantly. The study pays particular attention to the roles of landowners and farm dwellers in these processes - two stakeholder groups with very different livelihood options and privileges. Several intersecting issues have emerged. Firstly, the conversions entrench the power disparities that long have characterised the South African countryside and continue to work against the post-apartheid politics of rural transformation. Secondly, they perpetuate and generate contestations over belonging and boundaries. Parallel to this run discourses and practices of securitisation ; used to justify exclusion, inclusion, as well as violence. Importantly, the conversions are informed by trends of commoditisation, where nature, wildlife, heritage, and culture are increasingly privatised and assigned monetary values. Conceptually this study departs from the view that ‘nature’ and ‘wilderness’ are social constructs rather than realities with single definitions. It builds on critical approaches to nature, landscapes, heritage, and history. These constructs are charged with politics, and when unpacked they reveal how power relations shape the farm conversions and the use of the land. Central to understanding these concepts and how they interact in the farm-to wilderness transformation is the process of ‘othering’, where identities in these spaces are shaped by the juxtaposition of the ‘Self’ against the ‘Other’. The empirical material was generated through ethnographic fieldwork on privately owned farms in the borderlands of former Natal and KwaZulu, and research carried out at a provincial heritage conservation park in the north-eastern part of KwaZulu-Natal. The research includes six case studies where farms conversions took place between the 1980’s and the early 2000’s. But as the fieldwork revealed, the socio-spatial consequences stretch far beyond farm and park boundaries.

Mots clés : Belonging ; boundaries ; contestations ; farm dwellers ; violence ; game farms ; heritage ; wilderness ; constructs of ‘nature’ ; land reform ; power ; dispossession ; ethnography ; KwaZulu-Natal ; South Africa

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Page publiée le 21 novembre 2022