Accepted Paper:

Fenced Out: Jackal-Proofing, Vermin Extermination, and Environmental Histories of Labour Control in Southern Namibia  

Author:

Bernard C. Moore (University of London, SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers jackal-proof fencing in Namibia as a site of confluence between efforts to solve environmental questions regarding the ecological feasibility sheep of farming in arid districts and efforts to address labour uncertainty caused by genocide and “self-peasantisation.”

Paper long abstract:

The Afrikaans word for vermin is ongedierte: translating to "non-animal", or a de-animalised creature. In Southern Namibia, killing jackals (the main type of vermin in the region) was thought of not through imperial game hunting language and practice. In fact, archival references to vermin destruction rarely uses Afrikaans phrases such as jag (hunt), but rather uitroei (exterminate) or bestryding (combat). Unlike in game hunting, jackal eradication privileges ends over means. In Namibia, methods deemed illegal in Game Laws, such as traps, poisons, pitfalls, coursing with hounds, were common methods used to control vermin.

This paper explores the history of jackal eradication in Southern Namibia, noting how the colonial and apartheid states sought to include vermin control as part of an array of subsidies intended to uplift and stabilise the white sheep farming community. Vermin demographics were finally brought under control with increased subsidies towards the creation of jackal-proof fencing in the early 1950s. Jackal-proofing farms not only protected small-stock against predation, but also addressed labour demand by reducing the need for shepherds. I show that jackal-proof fencing is therefore a site of confluence between efforts to solve environmental questions regarding the ecological feasibility of sheep farming in arid districts and efforts to address labour uncertainty caused by genocide and "self-peasantisation." Jackal-proofing, however, revealed that efforts to control complex ecologies for the sake of Ovine Capitalism were ill-founded. Other "vermin" such as hares and rock hyrax, ordinarily the prey of jackals, descended upon jackal-proofed districts and reduced veld conditions to deplorable states.

Panel P141
Lines of Control - Lines of Desire: Towards an Integrated History of Fencing in Southern Africa