Accepted paper:

Reading unread/unreadable spaces: The case of Namaqualand in South Africa and Namibia on the Orange-Gariep River borderline


Paballo Chauke (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

There is an atrocious and violent history which has inscribed itself on the landscape of Namaqualand Orange-Gariep border between South Africa and Namibia. Both countries have been colonized at different moments in the past and this has a myriad readings and at times has proven almost unreadable.

Paper long abstract:

The broader theme that this research forms part of is "Space in Time: Landscape narratives and land management changes in a Southern African cross-­­border region". This project is an interdisciplinary joint research endeavour, which aims at developing a feasible, interdisciplinary methodology that merges different data produced by distinct research practices (history, geography, environmental science, nature conservation, climate change etc). The project examines, firstly, the history of land use, land management and land claims and its changes. Secondly, the project examines how these changes inscribed themselves onto the landscape and how transformations of landscape reflected changes in land use. In essence, the project is attempting to read diverse landscapes in a multi-disciplinary manner. Pivotal are, for example, environmental changes, especially with regard to soils, vegetation and water resources. In order to account for these diverse short and long term transformations, and in an attempt to synthesise their analysis- by transcending disciplinary frameworks the project develops and deploys multidisciplinary methodological approaches for the purpose of theorising what we call integrated "landscape narratives". During the past year, seminars, workshops and such opportunities were held whereby different members of the group, researchers and students would present their ideas about what parts of the Orange-Gariep river they were reading, how and why. What sparked my interest was the lack of reading of the landscape done on the Namibian side and the hegemony of South Africa in the literature. My question is thus; how do we go about reading unread spaces and addressing the cognitive dominance?

panel Env09
Space in time: changing patterns of land use, land rights, and landscape narratives