Accepted Paper:

"To be cornered like a jackal": an account of fenced territorialities in Southern Namibia   

Author:

Janie Swanepoel (University of the Free State )

Paper short abstract:

The main focus of this paper is to describe the logics of power as it manifested in the technologies involved in animal governance and hunting predators in Southern Namibia, and how these reflected broader shifts in the attempts of the colony to establish a ‘modern’ agricultural economy.

Paper long abstract:

'To be cornered like a jackal' is a common phrase used by Nama-speaking farmers to hint to a history of territorial battles between small-stock farmers in southern Africa and the black-backed jackal - an animal renowned for its cleverness in predating on livestock. The main focus of this paper is to describe the logics of power as it manifested in the technologies involved in animal governance and hunting predators in Southern Namibia, and how these reflected broader shifts in the attempts of the colony to establish a 'modern' agricultural economy. Fencing in the colony transpired into a typology of fences ('standard', jackal-proof, electrified etc.) that opened up new forms of animal and human geographies in an area defined by extreme water and grazing scarcities. By focussing on jackal hunting, I suggest that hunting practices only became institutionalised when most of Namibia's agricultural lands were fenced under the colonial administration. In this context, fences not only influenced social history but also changed the nature of animal-human relations, especially with regards to predators and animal governance. Fencing was aimed at greater control over land, but it also allowed for negotiation and trespass: this was especially apparent in hunting practices, which became a game of territoriality in which the hunter and the jackal always try to outmaneuver each other.

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