Models of environmental change derived from the Nature-Culture dichotomy posit a pre-colonial state of Nature subsistence economy that is penetrated by a colonial market economy Culture. In the modernisation paradigm of environmental change, the interaction is seen as positive: (natural) resources are more effectively used. In the declinist and inclinist paradigms, the result is environmental degradation. The history of cattle in the Angolan-Namibian border region between 1890 and 1990, however, complicates the resulting unilinear Nature-to-Culture narratives of environmental change. In fact, the region's cattle were a global market commodity before the colonial conquest; only during and because of colonial rule did cattle become a resource for local subsistence. Colonial officials and experts who by their own admittance were unwilling and unable to 'modernise' the cattle sector raised the alarm over overgrazing, deforestation, and desertification. Yet there is little evidence to support their claims of serious environmental degradation. Moreover, the record does not support the assertion that traditional indigenous management and cattle use in north-central Namibia was stable and naturally sustainable because pastoralism in the region was subject to dramatic upheavals caused by war, disease and migration.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science