Accepted paper:

Contested cartographies: changing mobility practices and emergent land tenure in north-western Namibia.


Elsemi Olwage (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is based on research conducted in north-western Namibia – a region dominated by livestock farming and pastoral societies. It explores the relationship between changing and divergent mobility practices and the re-making of localities, local-state configurations and relations of difference.

Paper long abstract:

Mobility is often an assumed inherent part of a semi-nomadic or pastoral existence. Yet taking this as a starting point can be misleading. Rather, everyday experiences as well as peoples' past and future imaginings are often instead marked by conditions of immobility. In order to critically consider, both theoretically and ethnographically, this interplay between mobility/immobility, the following paper focuses on changing mobility practices within the context of central north-western Namibia. This region is predominantly characterized by livestock farming and pastoral societies for whom a shared existence have to be negotiated within a particular environment and communal land tenure system. Rooted within complex historical contingencies and colonial inheritances, this tenure system and its' boundaries have undergone some important institutional, material-symbolic and legal-bureaucratic changes within post-independent Namibia. Based on long-term ethnographic research conducted over a period of fourteen months and taking a particular settlement dispute as point of departure, I thus aim to look at the relationship between changing mobility practices and the making and unmaking of tenure and local relations. In order to do so, I specifically consider recent north-south regional migrations, the entanglement between rural and urban public life and institutions, and the dynamics of cross-border labour migration.

panel P067
New mobilities and translocal social practices of African (post)pastoralist societies