African envir hist workshop report


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African envir hist workshop report

  1. 1. FINAL REPORT AND WORKSHOP PROCEEDINGS WORKSHOP ON AFRICAN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY AND APPLIED RESEARCH STORA BRÄNNBO HOTELL & KONFERENS, SIGTUNA 17-18 APRIL, 2004 Edited by Anneli Ekblom and Annika DahlbergArranged by the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm university, the Centre for Environmental and Development Studies (CEMUS), and African and Comparative Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala university. Funded by the Swedish Research Council (Ämnesrådet för Humaniora och Samhällsvetenskap, Vetenskapsrådet)
  2. 2. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction and scientific objective.................................................................................... 1Organisation .........................................................................................................................2Summary of papers and discussions.....................................................................................6 Welcome address and keynote........................................................................................................................6 Session 1: The past, the present and the boundaries of knowledge. The state of environmental history ...................................................................................................................................6 Session 2: Understanding socio-environmental interactions on different spatial and temporal scale.........................................................................................................................................9 Session 3: Epistemology and methodolog......................................................................................................10 Session 4: Final discussion..........................................................................................................................12Results of the workshop...................................................................................................... 13Workshop Participants........................................................................................................ 15Abstracts of keynote and position paper ............................................................................ 17 INTRODUCTION AND SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVEDuring two days in April 2004 a number of scholars met at Brännbo kursgård, Sigtuna, to discussthe role of African environmental history as well as applied environmental research in present-day management issues. Historical studies and research on present-day issues are often conductedin isolation from each other. For example, research of a more applied nature, dealing withpressing current situations such as land degradation, conservation, and intensified land use, isoften informed by short time-scales with little knowledge of the long term processes constitutingthe socio-ecological systems of today. Also, until recently there existed a divide within bothhistorical and archaeological studies, where social aspects were separated from environmental. Asimilar division often exists in studies of the present, even if there has been a slight improvementover the last couple of decades. An improved knowledge of the interacting dynamics of naturaland social processes informed by a long-term perspective is of fundamental importance for anunderstanding of present landscapes. This is of special urgency in Africa where our historicalknowledge of social and environmental systems is fragmentary and where present-dayenvironmental change directly affects people’s livelihoods.There is thus a strong need for closer links between historical studies and applied research onpresent-day environmental issues, and the meeting between these two fields is important forsustainable management. There is a strong interest in these questions among many researchers inSweden, – researchers who are dispersed over several universities and departments andrepresenting numerous disciplines. While co-operation in various forms (e.g. through researchnetworks) are common between Swedish researchers and their African counterparts, there hasbeen less energy expanded on building arenas within Sweden for the exchange of experiences andthe exploration of ideas, i.e. for creating opportunities for novel approaches to research.The workshop brought together researchers from different fields who share an interest in thedynamics of African landscapes and the co-evolution of social and ecological processes.Participants were invited with the aim to mix researchers from different disciplines anduniversities, to include both senior researchers and doctoral students, and to achieve genderbalance. The goal was to create a setting for inspired discussions that would result in valuableinputs to ongoing research, as well as spawn ideas for future research co-operation with cross-
  3. 3. 3fertilisation between disciplines and networks. The workshop was organised to coincide with aPhD course on African environmental and development history organised by CEMUS researchschool CEFO (Uppsala university), and PhD students presented papers and chaired workshop-sessions.The concrete aim of the workshop was to discuss how different historical perspectives andapproaches – in combination with studies of present-day landscape dynamics - can contribute tosustainable land management in various African settings. The workshop served as a platform tostrengthen our collective knowledge-base by giving an overview of the present state of researchin Sweden and internationally. It provided an arena for discussions on critical research issues tobe developed and to formulate future collaboration. Discussions focused on how environmentalhistory can be strengthened to address the issues faced by applied science and howcommunication between academia and praxis (e.g. policy formulation) can be enhanced. ORGANISATIONThe workshop was co-ordinated by three partners; the Department of Human Geography,Stockholm University, the Centre for Environmental and Development Studies (CEMUS), andAfrican and Comparative Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History,Uppsala University. All participants were asked to submit brief descriptions of their research andbackground and these were circulated before the workshop. Announcements went out to a widerange of departments in Sweden active in research on environmental issues in Africa. Theworkshop was structured around group discussions, and therefore presentations were given asshort position papers, c. 15 minutes each. Presentations and discussions were grouped in foursessions:• Session 1: The past, the present and the boundaries of knowledge. The state of environmental history.• Session 2: Understanding socio-environmental interactions on different spatial and temporal scales.• Session 3: Epistemology and methodology• Sessions 4: Applying historical perspectives and knowledge to the presentEach session was initiated by one or two presentations after which the participants were dividedin three smaller discussion groups. The composition of the groups was changed between eachsession so that all participants had the chance to interact. Some guiding questions for eachsession had been circulated before the workshop, but the discussions in the individual groupswere allowed to flow freely. In the last session the discussions of the individual groups weresummarised by the chairpersons. One of these, Kebrom Tekle, summarised his overallimpression of the workshop and of the role of environmental history and other environmentalresearch as a starting point for the final discussion with the whole group. The workshop wasconcluded with an excursion to Alsike prästgård arranged by Paul Sinclair. Here participants, afterlearning about the management of a Swedish small scale organic farm, discussed long- and short-term socio-environmental interactions manifested in the cultural landscape and the interplaybetween local and expert knowledge and between local management and global forces.
  4. 4. 4Workshop ProgrammeSaturday 17 AprilIntroduction 9.30-10.15 Coffee and registration 10.15- Welcome address, Anneli 10.30 Ekblom and Mats Widgren Introduction to the activities of 10.30- CEFO and CEMUS, Anders 10.45 Öckerman Africas environmental 10.45- footprints: tracking past and 11.45 present, James McCann Questions and discussions 11.45- relating to James McCanns 12.00 lecture 12.00-Lunch 13.00Session 1. Past, present and boundaries ofknowledge, the state of environmental Problems in the understandinghistory: 13.00- of vegetation dynamics, pastModerator: Mats Widgren 13.15 and present, Anneli Ekblom The need of an understanding 13.15- of social history: a foresters 13.30 view, Marja Ojanen-Järlind 13.30- 15.00 Group discussions 15.00-Coffee /tea 15.30Session 2. Understanding socio-environmental interactions on differentspatial and temporal scales: moderator Anneli 15.30- People and Climate Change,Ekblom 15.45 Karin Holmgren Socio-environmental 15.45- interactions, southern and 16.00 eastern Africa, Paul Sinclair 16.00- Urban islands in the savanna, 16.15 Robert Munson 16.15- 18.00 Group discussionsWorkshop dinner 20.00
  5. 5. 5Sunday 18 AprilBreakfast 8.00 Queries into the severed and new entanglements of Tarangire, Tanzania: from a multitude of landscapes to aSession 3. Epistemology and methodology: Park and back again, CamillaModerator Fredrik Haag 9.00-9.15 Årlin Negotiating environmental 9.15-9.30 values, Karin Reuterswärd Formulating an interdisciplinary approach for understanding change, Mats Widgren and 9.30-10.00 Tomas Håkansson Monetary vs environmental 10.00- dependency in rural 10.15 Pondoland, Flora Hajdu 10.15-Coffee and discussions 11.00 Group discussions Summary of session discussionSession 4. Applying historical knowledge in 11.00- by the PhD students chairingfuture planning: moderator Mats Widgren 11.15 the session 11.15- Introduction to the session by 11.30 Kebrom Tekle 11.30- Final discussion in the whole 12.00 group 12.00-Lunch 13.00 13.00- Final discussion in the wholeSession 4. continued discussions 14.00 group 14.00-Coffee 14.30 14.30- Alsike prästgård farm, guidedExcursion 17.00 by Prof Paul Sinclair
  6. 6. 6 SUMMARY OF PAPERS AND DISCUSSIONWelcome address and keynoteThe workshop was opened by Mats Widgren who gave a short welcome address (fig 1), afterwhich James McCann talked on “Africa’s environmental footprints: tracking past and present”(fig 2). He summarised the changing directions of environmental history in Africa that havechallenged earlier ‘degradation narratives’. He called for more research on environmental historyin Africa, research that resists simplistic metanarratives such as the maltheussian degradationnarrative and the overoptimistic narratives of good environmental management. He voiced theneed of environmental research that does not, as stated by McCann “neglect the role of aglobalizing political ecology that forces certain local practices and that is more historical than wemay imagine”. The talk emphasised the importance of an environmental history that can helpexplain the conditions of today, and that can show how they are embedded in historical processeson both local and global scales. Ending with a gaze towards the future he opened up for adiscussion on which routes African environmental history is taking. Predicting several directionsfor interactions between environmental history, environmental research and environmentalmanagement programmes he suggested several lines of potential research that inspired thefollowing discussions.Session 1: The past, the present and the boundaries of knowledge. The stateof environmental history.Session 1 started with a paper by Anneli Ekblom on the need of environmental history forunderstanding past and present vegetation dynamics in the coastal region of southern Africa. Sheraised the inherent methodological problems of understanding long-term vegetation dynamics,including problems of interpretation in pollen analysis, the lack of general basic research invegetation history, phenology and ecology, and the limitations of uniformitarianism as a modelfor understanding change. Although the present is the one model available for an ecologicalunderstanding of past vegetation patterns this very model constrains our knowledge of pastvegetation dynamics. She also pointed out the importance of environmental history as a platformfor discussions on environmental management today by exemplifying her own role as anenvironmental historian in the village community of Chibuene, southern Mozambique.While Anneli Ekblom described how she as a palaeoecologist became increasingly interested inthe conditions of the present, and realised that a better understanding of present environmentaldynamics was a prerequisite for understanding the past, Marja Ojanen-Järlind gave anotherperspective in her talk. As a forester, she initially believed that the equation of sustainable forestmanagement, i.e. the growth of trees ≥ the cutting of trees, would be easily applicable in southernZimbabwe’s communal areas. However, she gradually came to realise that understandingcontemporary use of forest resources demanded an understanding of the historical processesbehind the contemporary situation. Such understanding is necessary for a researcher who aims toproduce relevant knowledge and information for the promotion of sustainable future use offorest resources. Environmental history became integrated in her research, something that wasalso requested by the village community with which she was involved.
  7. 7. 7Fig 1. Welcome address byMats WidgrenFig 2. Keynote presenterJames McCannFig 3. Group discussion (fromright to left) Anders Lindahl,Thomas Håkansson, FredrikHaag, Marja Ojanen-Järlind,Ingvar Backéus, Camilla Årlinand Maria Ryner.
  8. 8. 8After these presentations that illustrated how the past is an integrated part of the present thesession continued with discussions in smaller groups. Guiding questions had been pre-circulatedto the group, asking: 1. Are we succeeding in linking the past with the present, - the present with the past? 2. What are the limitations of our knowledge of past environments and of socio- environmental dynamics? 3. Is there a need for a special ‘African’ environmental history, what are the benefits and pitfalls? 4. What are critical areas of research for further studies?The group discussions moved beyond these questions. In one group the discussion centred onthe question of the need of an ‘African’ environmental history, where some questioned therelevance of a ‘separate’ history that is a mere construction with roots in the colonial project.Others argued that there is a role for a specific African environmental history that can addressthe socio-environmental conditions specific to Africa. One participant stressed the important roleenvironmental history can have in creating a base for informed decisions when it comes toenvironmental policymaking. Ethiopia was raised as an example, where policymakers have basedtheir decisions on a shared belief in previous dramatic deforestation. However, environmentalhistory has shown that the alarm of deforestation was widely exaggerated, and that this has laidthe foundation for ill informed decisions when it comes to environmental management. Anotherparticipant raised the problem that although environmental history and other environmentalresearch have contributed to a better understanding of environmental dynamics, the researchresults are not disseminated to a wider audience. In the “new scramble for Africa”, as labelled byone participant, environmental management is more and more in the control of NGO’s. Theseorganisations, often backed by large capital, have much power. However, they often havepreconceived ideas about the cause and solution to a specific problem, and have little interactionwith the scientific community. In addition it was pointed out that many NGO’s do not involvethe local communities on local terms but rather imposes decisions and management policies.Another group, when debating the limitations of knowledge, focused on the problems ofresearch funding. Research is ultimately controlled by research funding and funding organisationsthus in reality control what knowledge is produced and how. Returning to the issue of theimportance of environmental history for policymaking and environmental management the groupdiscussed the limited knowledge we posses when it comes to environmental dynamics in the pastand present. The history of environmental management in Africa has shown the danger ofdrawing general conclusions on the basis of limited data. The need to be cautious and criticalwhen presenting data was stressed, including the importance of accounting for methodology andrepresentativity. The need of quantifiable data for policymaking was highlighted by someparticipants, while others warned against providing simple figures on complex problems andreferred to past mistakes in how science has been used in environmental policymaking andmanagement. An objection was made in one group concerning whether the role ofenvironmental historians was merely to give advice to donors and policymakers or if research onenvironmental history was not an issue of importance in itself? Although there were differentopinions on the role that environmental history has for present management, there was generalagreement that there is a great need of further research when it comes to understanding past andpresent environmental dynamics.
  9. 9. 9Session 2: Understanding socio-environmental interactions on differentspatial and temporal scales.The papers presented in session 2 contributed with an appreciation of the wide range of temporaland geographical scales of African environmental history. The session was initiated by KarinHolmgren and Helena Öberg’s summary of climatic variability in eastern and southern Africa,and possible correlations with socio-economic change during the last millennium. Their deeptime analysis shows that climatic variability has had an impact on past societies. They also showedthat there are no easy correlations between climate change and social transformations, but thatclimate change can have disastrous effects on already vulnerable societies. The lesson learnt isthat social resilience in a world ecosystem is a challenge for decision-makers if sustainabledevelopment is to be reached on global and local levels.Philippe Lavachery and Paul Sinclair gave an example of the potential of GIS techniques forintegrating different sets of data on several scales. The changing settlement patterns of CentralAfrica, as indicated by the location of archaeological sites dated from 12000 BP to present, werecorrelated with soil distribution based on the FAO soil map. This enables an assessment ofchanging soil preferences and site locations over time that tentatively can be correlated withlanduse patterns. These correlations show the potential of large scale regional landscape analysisfor elucidating interactions between the physical environment and people. A more recent accountof socio-environmental interactions was given by Robert Munson, who presented his study onthe transformations of the landscape of the Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru in northern Tanzaniaduring the German colonial era. Based on archive studies and photographs from two Germanmissions he showed how the introduction of new plants by the Germans, their new land-usepolicies and their general conception of the landscape transformed the environment towards aEuropean ideal.Spontaneous questions to the presenters tied in with the pre-circulated questions, i.e.: 1. How can we combine different spatial and temporal scales, and how can these best be used for a better understanding of socio-environmental dynamics? 2. What is the relevance of different time-scales (e.g. Quaternary, Holocene, last 100 years, last year…) for understanding the past (and the present)? What are the limitations and how do we deal with them – e.g. differences in resolution? 3. Are we combining the social and the ecological to the extent often stated in research descriptions? That is, are we really approaching an understanding of true interactions?A reaction to Holmgren and Öberg´s presentation was that in aiming to understand theinterrelationships of socio-natural processes we have to attempt to separate processes fromevents and try to resolve the issue of causation. There was general agreement however thatdifferent scales, whether long- or short term, and whether local, regional, or global, are allimportant as a focus of study and that they compliment each other. The discussions thus centredon the problems of combining different scales: what may be a correlation on one scale is notvisible on another scale.In one group the discussions moved on to the issue of whether communities today are morevulnerable to change than before? There was general agreement that communities are morevulnerable today and that therefore the ability of a community to adapt to the quickly changingenvironmental conditions of today is very important. The group concluded on a lighter tone bynoting that although globalisation is part of the reason why communities are more vulnerabletoday than in the past, globalisation also contributes with solutions. For example, through theinternet people can search for information and get in contact with each other in a way which wasnot possible before. Especially in cases of oppressive governments and dictators who previously
  10. 10. 10worked with heavy censorship and restrictions on information to the people, the internet haspresented new opportunities. Another group, when focusing on question 3 above, discussedweather we should strive towards a unified analysis of social and ecological processes andsystems, or if we should instead study them as separate entities in order to understand thedynamics.Session 3: Epistemology and methodologyThe discussions of session 3 centred around the epistemology of science in general and it wasclear in these discussions that the mixing of scholars from both human and natural sciencescreated a tension concerning opinions of what knowledge and science is. Camilla Årlinintroduced the session with a presentation of her PhD studies in Tarangire National Park,Northern Tanzania. In her study of beliefs, practices, movements and dwelling in the Tarangirearea from the mid 1700’s until present she challenges stereotyped definitions of the history of theTarangire area as “wilderness void of human activity”. With her use of actor network theory (cf.Latour) as a framework of analysis she stressed the need of an explicit formulation of theoreticalframeworks for disentangling what she calls the “hybridisation” of humans and nature.Karin Reuterswärd’s presentation dealt with the interactions and tensions between conservationideals on a national and international scale and the values of local communities, based on herown research in the Usambara mountains, northeastern Tanzania. It showed the importance ofincorporating local initiatives in environmental management projects but also pointed towardsthe epistemological problems that this may entail. The issue of methodology was brought to thefore in Mats Widgren and Thomas Håkansson’s presentation of the planned project “Thepolitical ecology of trade networks, food production and land-cover change, Northeast Tanzania1850-2000” (see project description in the appendix). This interdisciplinary project aims toanalyze the mechanisms and driving forces behind land use and land cover changes in northeastTanzania through a regional and historical perspective.Flora Hajdu’s study in the former homeland of Transkei, South Africa, stresses the importance ofbeing critical to public views and common agreements concerning environmental problems on aregional scale. In the presentation she focused on her investigations of the relations between locallivelihood patterns and the state of environment. Contrary to the general perception of theformer homelands as environmentally degraded and populations as isolated and environmentallydependent, Hajdu’s study shows an environment that is highly resilient and a populationdependent mainly on monetary incomes. The presentation showed by a modern example how thepreconceptions construe our understanding and elucidated the importance of choosingmethodologies that may challenge preconceived ideas.The guiding questions of the third session were: 1. How do the methods we use construe (and/or limit) our understanding of the past? 2. How do these methods represent human/environmental interactions? How can methods be further developed to appreciate the complexity of socio-environmental interactions? 3. How can methods be developed to appreciate the complexity of interactions over many scales in time and place? 4. It is often stated that the understanding of socio-ecological dynamics is constrained by the general philosophy of science that carries with it an inherent division between ‘social’ and ‘natural’. a) Does science inherently limit the possibility of understanding socio- environmental dynamics?
  11. 11. 11 b) Is a true unification of social and ecological processes possible? c) Can (or should) the structure of academia be changed to accommodate a unified analysis? 5. Are our present disciplinary frameworks and tools sufficient, or should interdisciplinary studies develop their own unique frameworks and tool-kits?The discussions picked up on the presentations in this and previous session. It was clear thatparticipants were concerned not to simplify complex phenomena in order to provide easyguidelines concerning environmental management and social development. Many participantsstressed the importance of incorporating many different perspectives on environmentalmanagement, including the views and knowledge held by local communities. Others made adifference between making complexity simple and explaining complexity in a simple way. Theconflict between political decision-makers and media wanting simple results and the scientistsbeing unable or unwilling to satisfy those wishes was also discussed. The role of NGO’s and thedanger of their sometimes arrogant attitude towards local communities were raised again. Someparticipants stressed the need of data on past socio-environmental interactions for informingtoday. It was also emphasised that, so far in the workshop, there had been a tendency to forgetthat policymaking does not only take place on a national level, but also formally and informallyon a local level, and that all levels are in need of better knowledge for informed decisions.In one group the need of a changing epistemology was discussed, one that allows for theincorporation of different stories of change. This was countered with the argument that asscientists attached to universities, the institution afforded the highest credibility when it comes toresearch, we carry a responsibility to produce results, and to communicate them, as opposed tosaying that scientists’ view of the world is as good as anyone else’s. However, as discussed in onegroup, there has also been a shift when it comes to the epistemology of science with theintroduction of concepts such as “local knowledge”. This concept marks a change in the way weview knowledge as it introduces the possibility of several parallel knowledges in science.Examples were also given of how, in the present workshop, we have communication problemsbecause of different scientific language and that presentations had excluded parts of the audience.Finally, the groups discussed the conservative attitude against interdisciplinarity that exists inmany departments. A restructuring of the faculty and departmental systems of the universitieswas called for that allows for the hybridisation of different disciplines. Institutions like CEMUSand CTM were given as positive examples. Interdisciplinary research cooperation where scholarscan meet over specific themes of research was voiced as an ideal of which there are now someexamples. However, in all groups the problems associated with working interdisciplinary was arecurring theme. PhD students voiced frustration over the fact that interdisciplinary projects areoften criticised for doing “everything to little”, an attitude that has to change if we wantinterdisciplinarity to really work. It was also pointed out that publishing interdisciplinary work isdifficult, even when it comes to interdisciplinary journals, as there are completely differenttraditions of presenting research. For example, in human sciences self-reflexivity is expectedwhereas in natural science this is seen as “unscientific”. These are problems that have to be takenseriously as PhD students are presently encouraged to carry out interdisciplinary work, but at thesame time there is little acceptance of such work in the academic structure.Session 4 and Final discussion: Applying historical knowledge in futureplanning.Session 4 was originally planned along the same lines as previous sessions. However, since thepresentations planned for this session could not be given the time was instead used for a finaldiscussion among all participants. The pre-circulated questions for this session were:
  12. 12. 12 1. When we write environmental history we must consider whose environment and whose history we are describing. Who is the audience, and should our scientific endeavour differ depending on the audience? 2. Many post-modern thinkers stress that science (natural and social) is power. What are the ethical implications of science, whether explored in the form of ‘pure science’ or more action-oriented? How may our research affect power relations and what are our responsibilities? 3. What are the implications of scientists taking an active role in society? At what scales should we exert influence (local, regional, national, etc) – if at all? 4. The need for an historical perspective in addressing the present state of the environment is more commonly stressed than before. But, to what degree does an improved understanding of historical processes actually influence present policymaking?These questions all relate to previous discussions in the groups, and the chairpersons were askedto summarise these. As a starting point for the final discussion Kebrom Tekle was asked tosummarise his impression of the discussions and to express his opinion on the role of Africanenvironmental history for the future. Here he raised a number of important issues: Is there aneed of a special ‘African’ environmental history? Who would be included in such a history andwhom would it serve? He stressed the importance of incorporating the local communities in theresearch design, as well as in the implementation of management plans based on research results.He also talked about the responsibility of the research community to communicate researchresults to policy makers and NGOs, and to do this in such a way that results can be used formanagement decisions. Finally, he stressed the need of an environmental history that can beapplied to present day situations and that directly addresses the pressing issues of today.The final discussion started with the role of environmental history for environmentalmanagement today and in the future. Two main positions were evident among the participants,where one emphasised the importance of research that is directly applicable to present-dayenvironmental problems. The other main standpoint defended the right of research to investigatescientific questions that may not be directly applicable, but that continues to build the commonknowledge base. The PhD students were asked to comment on whether they thought that allPhD projects should be obliged to come up with results that have practical applicability, and theresponses varied. One participant pointed out that PhD students have in fact successfully arguedfor the practical applicability of their research, since many of the PhD students (present at theworkshop) were funded by donor organisations for whom applied aspects are important.Another participant stated that if research is to be directly applicable the requirement on scientificrigour should be relaxed. Presently it is very difficult to combine research of a more appliednature with ‘pure research’ in the shape of a thesis. However, participants also raised the concernthat science should not be controlled in the sense that that it must be directly applicable, as itcannot be expected that all projects should come up with concrete recommendations for futureenvironmental management. Rather, science must be allowed to pursue knowledge for its ownsake, in Africa as well as in other parts of the world.It was stated, with examples, how PhD students who are under pressure to reach specific types ofresults end up producing poor science. Many of the PhD students present agreed with this, andthe dangers of producing simple answers to complex questions was voiced again. It was alsoemphasised that science does not necessarily have to be applicable in a specific project in order tobe useful and applicable in a broader perspective. In reaction to statements from the PhDstudents, Yonas Yemshaw provocatively claimed that the African continent cannot afford topursue research simply for its own sake, and that all researchers involved in research in Africahave a responsibility to produce result that are applicable and that can ameliorate pressingsituations of socio-environmental problems. Other participants agreed that research should be
  13. 13. 13obliged to be applicable and useful to policymakers and managers. However, others objected thatif an attitude of a “law of applicability” is applied to all research projects, then basic research thatis needed to amend the general lack of basic environmental knowledge would no longer besupported by funding organisations. The statement caused immediate reactions, and it was notedthat this is a development that can already be seen since basic and empirical research, includingfieldwork, is not supported to the same degree as before.The discussion again moved to the need of making priorities when it comes to research interests.Training and capacity building in Africa was raised as an important priority and also the need toinvolve local communities. This should not only occur in implementation of results, but also inthe actual research process itself. Yonas Yemshaw also raised other priorities important for asound environmental management in Africa, including access of technology and knowledgewhere environmental history has and important role to play. Other needs mentioned were theregulation of market subsidiaries from the north, an improved health situation and a sound andstable governance. It was pointed out that many of these priorities are not directlyenvironmentally related nor can they be solved on a local or national scale. This made someoneask if we are wasting our energy in projects on long- and short-term socio-environmentalinteractions on a local scale while being fully aware that many of the environmental and socialproblems we are studying are unsolvable on that scale. RESULTS OF THE WORKSHOPThe workshop was successful in establishing a firm basis for an improved future contact betweenresearchers, departments and disciplines. This was particularly enhanced through the numerousdiscussions that provided a good foundation for future formal and informal co-operation. Towhat extent this will result in novel research projects will have to be evaluated in the future.However, the mix of researchers from such a wide range of disciplines also demonstrated thedifficulties inherent in interdisciplinary research. A recurring issue in the discussions was the roleof science and here some disagreements was evident among participants. There are apparentdifficulties in meeting across disciplines, and some central disagreement ultimately spring fromdifferent views on what science is and what scientific knowledge is. This discussion will not movefurther unless we first realise that there are differences in our epistemological outlook, and thatthese need to be understood, discussed and treated with respect. Such a discussion wouldnecessitate a whole new workshop. Although many of the pre-circulated questions referred tohow we can understand and appreciate socio-environmental dynamics, this line of discussion wasnot pursued in the groups. This may be due to the fact that all of the participants already share aninterest in going beyond the dichotomy of the social and environmental, wherefore the focus ofthe discussion was on the issues of epistemology and methodology rather than on discussingboundaries.The discussions were lively and engaged, encouraged through the informal environment of theworkshop. Also, the close association between the workshop and the course on Africanenvironmental history was important for the structure of the workshop and the PhD studentswere given prominent roles in the discussions. However, as indicated above the discussions didnot really utilise the pre-circulated questions and therefore became very broad. In the evaluation,the PhD students pointed out that the questions should have been more specific and that if theyhad been the discussions may have been more focused. However, the broad type of questionswere also enabling in that they allowed for meeting points among such a wide range of researchinterest. In this way the groups could chose to deal with specific issues, and discuss co-operationnetworks and future research programmes. Despite some interesting disagreements there was ageneral consensus among participants that environmental history has a strong role within
  14. 14. 14environmental management today, and that the knowledge base on socio-environmentaldynamics needs to be further expanded. This should be done in various ways, e.g. through basicresearch, dissemination of results to policymakers and local community and through the raisingof a public debate on environmental issues.
  15. 15. 15Fig 4. Excursion to Alsike Prästgård guided by Paul Sinclair. Some of the participants, from left toright: Robert Munson, Marja Ojanen-Järlind, Yonas Yemshaw, Thomas Håkansson, Birgitta Farelius,Kebrom Tekle, Ingvar Backéus, Anneli Ekblom, Mats Widgren, James McCann, Ingrid Karlsson, PaulSinclair and Camilla Årlin. Fedra in the front of the picture. WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTSIngvar Backéus Evolutionary Biology CentreAnnika Dahlberg Dept of Human Geography, Stockholm universityBodil Elmqvist Centre for Environmental Studies, Lund UniversityAnneli Ekblom African and Comparative Archaeology, Dept of Archaeology and Ancient HistoryBirgitta Farelius Dept of theology, history of religionsOscar Franzén Cemus, Uppsala universityFredrik Haag Applied Environmental Impact Assessment, Uppsala University, Cemus course
  16. 16. 16Flora Hajdu FloHa@Tema.LiU.SE Dept of Water and Environmental Studies, Tema V, Linköping University, Cemus courseKarin Holmgren Dept of Physical Geography, Stockholm universityThomas Håkansson Dept of Human Ecology, Lund UniversityIngrid Karlsson Kollegiet för utvecklingstudierAnders Lindahl Laboratory for Ceramic Research, Dept of Geology, Lund universityJames McCann African Studies Center, Boston UniversityRobert Munson African Studies Center, Boston University/Ludwig-Maximilian- UniversitaetElin Norström Dept of Physical Geography, Stockholm universityMarja Ojanen-Järlind, SLU, CEMUS courseMaria Ryner Dept of Physical Geography, Stockholm universityKarin Reuterswärd Dept of Human Geography, Stockholm universityPaul Sinclair, African and Comparative Archaeology, Dept of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala universityAnneli Sundkvist Dept of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala universityKebrom Tekle Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala UniversityMats Widgren Dept of Human Geography, Stockholms university Yemshaw Nairobi, African Forest Research Network (AFORNET)Camilla Årlin Dept Human Geography, Stockholm UniversityAnders Öckerman CEMUS, Uppsala universitet
  17. 17. 17 ABSTRACTS OF KEYNOTE AND POSITION PAPERS (obs not for citation!) Africas Environmental Footprints: Tracking Past and Future James C. McCann, African Studies Center, Boston UniversityIn the first decade of the 21st century the history of Africas environments has become asubstantial and expanding field of study, reflecting its germination in a number of different sitesas well as in different academic cultures. My goal in this paper is to explore the directions thisresearch has taken in the past and to divine something about the future directions. Does theresearch produced reflect Africas distinctive forces of nature, or does it more closely reflect thespecial academic cultures and scholarly traditions of Europe and North America? Whatinfluences are evident from Africas own intellectual traditions? Is there such a thing as anAfrican environmental footprint, or footprints, that distinguishes our common field of study ordoes Africa more properly belong to a set of global forces that make it unexceptional? The role of the researcher in the potential application of knowledge on landscape change and evolution. Annika Dahlberg, Department of Human Geography, Stockholm universityResearch on environmental history in Africa is continuously coming up with new findings andpresenting rewritten and adjusted histories of places, people, forms, and processes. As researcherswe need to reflect on how the knowledge and opinions emanating from our data and analyses areused – or not used as the case may be. The idea that knowledge, or ownership, of history mayconvey power is not new, but one does not often find references to this debate in descriptions oflocal or regional case studies. To what extent should the researcher take responsibility for thepotential effect of his or her findings? Are there cases where findings should be disseminatedwith care, or even withheld altogether? And what about the opposite situation – when theresearchers try to convey new insights to planners and policymakers, and they refuse toacknowledge it: How far should the researcher push? The questions above have been phrased invery general terms, and I do not profess to have answers to them. However, through a very briefdescription of two examples from a research project in the Mkuze Wetlands, KwaZulu-Natal inSouth Africa, I want to provide a base on which we can start a discussion on these issues. Itshould be noted that the wetlands are ‘shared’ between nature conservation land (a WorldHeritage Site) and communal land inhabited by poor rural communities.Wetlands, including rivers, are very dynamic and constantly change as various processes interactover time. The Mkuze river can be shown to have changed course several times throughouthistory. In the early 1970s what was then considered a relatively minor human intervention endedup switching the course of over 80% of the river water. The conservation organisation have forvarious reasons wanted to rehabilitate the former river course, and in 2003 work on this projectcommenced. This was done without much (or any) professional assessment of the likelihood ofsuccess and/or of potential side-effects. It was also done in spite of quite heavy cautions fromthe research group who, based on a detailed survey of the landscape in combination with in-depth knowledge of other wetland systems, stated that the chances of succeeding were very slim.Should we have pushed further? The Mkuze wetlands have for over a century witnessed more or
  18. 18. 18less violent conflict over its natural resources. Conflicting strategies of management and use havemainly been found between village people and the conservation services. Today South Africa hasdeclared that conservation of valuable landscapes, habitats and species should go ahead, but thatit should do so in co-operation with local people. An ongoing research project is looking at theenvironmental history of the area, and has suggested two (at least) parallel histories. The researchteam stresses that both narratives are valid, but is there a potential risk that one narrative or theother – or both – are used to inflate rather than deflate the present conflict? The role of environmental history, examples from the coastal region of southern Africa Anneli Ekblom, African and Comparative Archaeology, Dept of Archaeology and Ancient history, Uppsala UniversityWorking with research on the past and present environment there are many roles in which theresearcher can engage. One lies in revising the rooted images of the environmental problems inAfrica and another in providing new data for a better understanding on long term socio-environmental dynamics. Separating these two potential roles may not be possible, which in turnstresses the need for realising that science is a social and political exercise that is far from neutral.History and archaeology are important tools in challenging images of the past African landscapeas unmanaged, or “wilderness imposed”. As archaeological and historic research expanded afterindependence, many researchers within these fields have however adopted degradation narrativesas a matter of fact. Still we know very little about the past environment of the coastal areas.Paleoecological investigations are very few in the region but investigations from the wider regionsuggest a complex relationship between climatic change and human influence in the shaping ofthe landscape. Meanwhile, the ecological debates has stressed that the basic presumption of the“imposed wilderness idea”, namely the presence of a state of nature that, could be in a state of aforever stable equilibrium, can no longer be seen as a representation of the African landscape.The complex ecology of southern Africa with the extreme variations in rainfall, the regularpresence of fire´s, natural and induced and, the varying edaphic circumstances stresses a multi-causality of change that is space and time dependent.There are inherent limitations to our knowledge and the possibilities of representing thelandscape. Our tools for understanding the past landscape are generally not sensitive to complexdynamics on local and short term scales. Environmentalists whether interested in the dynamics ofthe past or the present are also caught in a delicate dilemma; the understanding of theenvironmental dynamics of the past is limited by our poor understanding of the present, in turnrestricted by the lack of knowledge on the long term social and biophysical conditions that hascontributed to shape the present. The inherent complexity of the landscape stresses the need, notonly, for a close incorporation of a wide range of tools for understanding the landscape,crosscutting different spatial and temporal scales and artificial boundaries between sciences, butalso for an accommodative approach towards different narratives of the landscape.
  19. 19. 19 Monetary vs. environmental dependence in rural Pondoland, South Africa Challenging a rigid South African narrative of environmental dependence and degradation in the former homelands Flora Hajdu, Department of Water and Environmental Studies, Linköping UniversityThis presentation shortly summarizes the results from a study in a rural area in the formerhomeland of Transkei, South Africa. The project has studied local livelihood patterns and thereasons for choices about livelihood strategies. So far, much of the results point to a quiteresilient environment and a population dependent mainly on monetary incomes. This challengesextensive literature and firmly held public views portraying the environment of the formerhomelands as severely degraded due to population pressure, and the population itself as isolatedand highly environmentally dependent. A question for discussion could be why this narrative isso stubborn in South African, and especially with regard to the homelands. Climate change in Africa during the past millennium and its implications for societal development Karin Holmgren and Helena Öberg, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm UniversityClimatic records from Africa have shown that both temperature and the amount of rainfall havevaried over the past millennium. Changing water resources in semi-arid regions clearly must haveregional influences on both ecological and socio-economic processes. Through a detailed analysisof the available historical and paleoclimatic evidence from southern and eastern Africa coveringthe past millennium we can show that, depending on the vulnerability of a society, climaticvariability can have an immense impact on societies, sometimes positive and sometimesdisastrous. We emphasize that the interconnected issue of world ecosystem and social resilience isthe challenge for decision-makers if sustainable development is to be reached on global and locallevels. Reflections on the historical contingency of contemporary environmental conditions The gradual realisation of the importance of social history for the understanding of today, a foresters view Marja Ojanen-Järlind, SLUA forester, before entering deeper into the conditions of forests as resources and people as dailyusers of forest products, believed that the equation of sustainable forest management, i.e. growthof trees ≥ drain of trees, would be easily applicable even in Zimbabwe’s communal areas. Theproblems would be mainly technical: how to assess reliable growth/drain figures for a largenumber of different tree species and how to assess land-use areas, where trees were growing.Awakening to the real world happened quite soon: status of forested areas and tree populationschanged daily and seemingly unpredictably. Additionally, much of the general “knowledge”obtained before the fieldwork showed to be questionable, e.g. communal areas had the worstnatural conditions for agriculture; people living there were mainly evicted from commercialfarming areas; and deforestation was a big problem everywhere. Therefore understanding bothcontemporary and historical processes concerning trees and forests in the context of complexrural societies is a prerequisite for a researcher who wishes to produce relevant knowledge andinformation for promotion of sustainable use of forest resources.
  20. 20. 20 Queries into the severed and new entanglements of Tarangire, Tanzania : from a multitude of landscapes to a Park and back again Camilla Årlin, Department of Human Geography. Stockholm UniversityThe idea of nature and culture as separate/separable entities is at the very heart of the modernistagenda, which at the end of the 19th century formulated the idea of national parks and thepreservation of wilderness. It first took the shape of a national park protecting the ‘wild beauty’ ofNiagara Falls in the United States. From there the idea rippled across the imperial worldreformulating itself through the policy and networks of governments and organizations and indifferent ways it was, and is still, attached to spaces of wildness to separate these from the harmsof the developed (Cronon 1996). In Tanzania the establishment of game reserves, conservationareas and National Parks came about through a conflict between the two very disparate agendaalluded to above. Agenda one, which was first and foremost opted for by the colonialgovernment in both Tanzania and on Downing Street in London, was to make a ‘savagewilderness’ into an economically viable protectorate within the British Empire. As such, itfocused on three things: farming, commercial livestock breeding, and mining. The mainantagonists to this agenda were vector borne diseases including the insects acting as the vectors,game [in contrast to wildlife], vegetation housing both of the fore mentioned, and ‘theconservative native’. Agenda two, in contrast, was one of wholesale preservation. Building onconceptions of the ‘African’ pristine and sensitive nature and the [visual] experience of both,agenda two was mainly opted for by an English aristocracy – all members of the British Museumand The Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire – with Game Officers and a few othersacting on the ground. The main antagonists were here perceived as development, developmentpolicy, ‘un-sportsmanlike hunters’ [in the shape of ‘natives’ and ‘Americans’], and ‘natives’ whodid not remain [conservative] ‘natives’.To illustrate the discrepancy in these two agenda we can turn to a Tanzanian Secretariat fileentitled “Game Preservation Policy” dating to 1926-27, for where the Director of Gamepreservation writes, “[T]he native has not yet reached the stage of civilization at which he iscapable of appreciating properly the gifts of nature – such as a fine game population and valuabletimber forests – and of conserving them.” , the Director of Agriculture states “The first care ofthe Agricultural Department is the increase of native food-crops. The first care of gamepreservation is the protection of the pests that cause every year the greatest and most dangerousdestruction of those crops.” The angry conclusion being “If in uninhabited or agriculturallyuseless tracts it is thought worth while to establish Game Reserves in which ‘European Scientists’can amuse themselves, there can be no objection, provided the Scientific bodies will meat thecost of managing such reserves.” (Tanzanian National Archives, AB-1247).So in the clash between the two agenda, a segregation of space – creating landscapes ofdevelopment and landscapes of preservation – was seen as the only plausible solution. But hereis the problem, it was never possible – even if the preservationist and the developer believed itwas, and acted on this belief – to establish a universal grid for where and what was wilderness,which areas and who was developed/ developable. Within the framework of segregated landscapesthere was no space or understanding for practice or landscapes that did not conform to a dichoticrelation between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’, in other words, there was no space for hybrids or fluidentanglements. Add to this the short-term knowledge of a newly established colonial government,as well as the untutored gaze on the ‘African’ environment - which the European preservationistmust be seen to represent as it saw inhabited and used lands as ‘empty’ - in a country twice thesize of Sweden, with disparate and diverse subsistence strategies, cultures, languages andpractices, and you will have the root of the people/park dilemmas existing today.
  21. 21. 21Today more than thirty percent of Tanzania has been converted into national parks, gamereserves and conservation areas by the colonial as well as [or even more so] by the independentTanzanian state. With the preservation agenda gaining world wide power from the middle of the20th Century until today, this has increasingly meant ‘locking the gate’ to all contradictinglandscape definitions and practices held by people who once lived in or who surround these areastoday - definitions and practices that to a large extent have shaped the very areas from which theyare excluded. For as Neumann writes, “[t]he idea of a nature as a pristine, empty Africanwilderness was largely mythical and could only become reality by relocating thousands ofAfricans whose agency had in fact shaped the landscape for millennia.” (Neumann 1995) And atthe same time as people are not allowed by law to be entangled with nature, nature – in the formof elephants etc – is protected by law and may entangle unthreatened with people. Thediscrepancy of this is made all the more clear in a drought situation – as has been the case in oneof my field sights – where it is seen as ‘natural’ for elephants to move into inhabited areas in thesearch for food, at the same time as it is seen as illegal for a farmer or livestock keeper to searchfor food/water in ‘the wilderness’ and even more so to protect his crops from maraudingelephants. Under such circumstances it is not surprising that the gazetting of proclaimed‘wilderness’ areas is highly contested by the communities affected (see e.g. Neumann 1998,Brockington 2002), nor that attempts are made to retie the severed entanglements with spaces ofpreservation – resulting in phenomena like ‘community conservation’ but also ‘poaching’.My PhD project, which is mainly funded by Sida/SAREC commenced in January 2002. Buildingon a year of fieldwork, and some archival research it aims to capture the multitude ofheterogeneous landscape histories surrounding Tarangire National Park, Northern Tanzaniai. In1957, when Tarangire was first declared a Game Reserve, at least seven different groups ofpeople surrounded the space initially gazetted. Even though most of these groups claim to haveused and/or settled within the area that became Tarangire Game Reserve, the area was seen bypolicy makers as having little or no human population (past and present) due to its highconcentration of tsetse flies. However, the presence of iron-age settlement sites, visual remnantsof hunting and gathering (such as dug out animal traps and honey hunting ‘ladders’ in baobabtrees), and, more importantly, the memory of people contradicts the tsetse fly narrative. Tracingviews, practices, movements and dwelling from the mid 1700’s until today the project seeks toconfront stereotyped definitions of Tarangire as ‘tsetse infested wilderness, void of humanactivity’ with the definitions arising from past and present practises of the peoples who borderthe park today or who once practised/settled/moved within its present day boundaries. Asignificant focus is placed on the history of the area prior to the establishment of the park and onthe processes/actors involved in its establishment. Specifically three main themes are followedover time: Firstly, the settlement history of Western Tarangire and its surrounding area, secondly,landscapes of practice, the identity/places they generate and the effects of change in the formulationof these landscapes, and finally, tsetse politics and agency past and present. The project relies on oralhistory, aerial photography, field evidence and documentary sources and is framed conceptuallyby recent developments within European landscape research in general and at the Department ofHuman Geography, Stockholm University in particular. Theoretically it stems, broadly speaking,from writings on the production of nature (see e.g Smith 1990, Urry 1995, Grove 1995, Adams &McShane 1996) and political ecology (see e.g Collet 1987, Brockington & Homewood 1996, andNeumann 1995, 1998). More specifically however, it is theoretically oriented to a fusion of SarahWhatmore’s feminist hybrid geography (Whatmore 2002), critical discourse analysis (Chouliaraki &Fairclough 1999) and Tim Ingolds theorys of dwelling and movement (Ingold 2000).Over the past 15 years there has been a growing amount of research on park/people relationsand community conservation. The main bulk of this research in Tanzania concerns pastoralpeoples such as the Maasai, no attempts to document areas of fluid ethnicity, as well as fluid
  22. 22. 22subsistence - such as the area along Tarangire’s western border - have been made. Likewise, fewin-depth historical analysis’s of the development, conflict and affect of protected areas in Africahave been conducted, Brockington (2002), and Neumann (1998) being notable exceptions.Likewise the enormous effects of Tsetse policy on the environment and people during Britishrule in Tanzania has up until the 1990’s received little attention. Capitalising on the work of JohnFord (1971) three ‘recent’ case studies – those of Giblin, Hoppe and Neumann - on the socialaspects of tsetse control in Tanzania have shown the importance and problematic nature of thesepolicies and the need for further explorations of site-specific effects (Giblin 1990, 1992, Hoppe1997, Neumann 2001).References:Adams, J & Mcshane, T. O. 1996. The Myth of Wild Africa. University of California Press. Berkley.Brockington, D. 2002. Fortress concervation – the Preservation of the Mkomazi Game Reserve, Tanzania. James Currey. Oxford.Cosgrove, D. & Daniels, S. 1988. The iconography of landscape. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.Chouliaraki, L. & Fairclough, N. 1999. Discourse in late modernity : rethinking critical discourse analysis. Edinburgh : Edinburgh Univ. PressCronon, W.1996. The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.. In Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. W. Cronon (ed.) Pp. 69-90. New York.Giblin, J. L. 1990. Trypanosomiasis Control in African History: An Evaded Issue? In The Journal of African History Vol. 31(1), pp.59-80.-1992. The Politics of Environmental Control in Northeastern Tanzania, 1840-1940. University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia.Grove, R. H. 1995. Green Imperialism: Colonial expansion, tropical island Edens and the origins of environmentalism, 1600-1860. Cambridge University press. Cambridge.Ford, J. 1971. The Role of the Trypanosomiases in African Ecology: A Study of the Tsetse Fly Problem (London: Oxford University Press).Homewood, K. & Rogers, W. A.. 1991. Maasailand Ecology: Pastoralist Development and Wildlife Conservation in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.Hoppe, K. A. 1997. Lords of the Fly: Environmental Images, Colonial Science and Social Engineering in Brittish East African Sleeping Sickness Control, 1903-1963. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Boston MA: Boston University.Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment – essays in livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Routledge.Little P. D. 1996. Pastoralism, biodiversity, and the shaping of savanna landscapes in East Africa. In AFRICA 66: (1) 37-51 1996.Luig, U & Von Oppen, A. 1997. Landscape in Africa: Process and Vision : An introductory essay. In: Paideuma Vol 43, 1997.Neumann, R. P. 1995 “Ways of seeing Africa: Colonial recasting of African society and landscape in Serengeti National Park. In Ecumene. Vol 2(2) 1995.-1998. Imposing Wilderness – Struggles over Livelihood and Nature Preservation in Africa.University of California Press. Berkeley.Olwig, K. 1996. Recovering the substantive nature of landscape. In:Ann. Assoc. Am. Geographers Vol. 86.Smith, N. 1990. Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space. Blackwell. Cambridge,Massachusetts.Urry, J. 1995. Consuming Places. Routledge. London.Whatmore, S. 2002. Hybrid geographies – natures, cultures, spaces. Sage Publications. London.
  23. 23. 23 Urban Islands in the Savanna: Moshi and Arusha and the Changing Landscape of Colonialism (the changing landscape in northern Tanzania during the German colonial period, c. 1885-1914) Robert Munson, African Studies Center, Boston University#The face of northern Tanzania1 surrounding Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru has changed muchover the last 120 years. Of these changes, most of the botanical and landscape changes wereinitiated early, during the German colonial era. The German period introduced many Asian,Australian, European and American plants to the area. In general, the Germans brought theplants to Africa and the European economic and political dominance provided fertile soil inwhich they could root. However, subsequent adoption by Africans generally ensured the long-term success of the new arrivals. Parallel to this, the German conception of development and theincreasing involvement of this area in the outside, European-dominated world helped to alter thelandscape towards a productive creation Europeans would understand.My complete study looks at the colonial era developments (c. 1880-1916) to determine thelandscape changes caused by the plants and the new influences, the exact nature of the alterationsand what the consequences were. I examine these from a biogeographical perspective: how andwhy the various species changed in their distribution across the landscape and how the humanactors affected their distributions across the landscape. In this paper, I only look at twoexamples.The sources in Germany and Tanzania used for this study cover a wide-range. First, the colonialrecords in the Bundesarchiv, Berlin and the Tanzanian National Archives, Dar es Salaam providea solid foundation. Church records in Leipzig, Germany and Moshi, Tanzania as well as severalother small archives complement the government’s records and bring the focus onto themissions. Scientific journals, maps and reports from the colonial period, primarily housed inGermany, provide an important insight into the botany - the study as well as practical use - andlandscape of colonialism. Photographic collections in Germany from the colonial time provide aglimpse into the past and information not present in the written records. Finally, my fieldresearch in Tanzania ties all the above together by helping me to understand the landscape andsome of the views of the Africans in the Kilimanjaro and Meru area. Northeast Tanzania 1850-2000: The political ecology of trade networks, food production and land-cover change Thomas Håkansson* and Mats Widgren** *Division of Human Ecology, Lund University ** Department of human Geography, Stockholm universityThe project aims at analyzing the mechanisms and driving forces behind land use and land coverchanges in a regional and historical perspective. It contributes to the research on human resourceuse and global environmental change through its genuine historic perspective (i.e. notdeterministic). Land use and land cover change will be traced in a 150 year perspective and causes 1 I use “Tanzania” and “Deutsch-Ostafrika” interchangeably although they do not represent theexact same territorial area, however both are precise enough for the study’s area in northern Tanzania. Duringthe German period a designation such as “Tanzania” would have been unrecognizable to the people living in thearea, while on the other hand, “Deutsch-Ostafrika” while correct then is not so familiar now. I have decided tosimply use both in order to implicitly emphasize the historical continuity. I only use “Tanganyika” during theBritish mandate period.
  24. 24. 24for land use change will be sought in the history of population, trade networks, political changesand possibly also climate change. It is an interdisciplinary effort, based on historical geography,historical anthropology and physical geography with remote sensing. We will test the implicationsof current revisionary approaches to environmental exploitation in Africa, which downplay, orreject, the claim that current economic activities result in a depleted resource base and reducedfood production. A range of sources, including historical maps, travel accounts, satellite imagery,census data and archival material will be utilized, and researchers carrying out ongoing local casestudies in the region will be engaged as expert consultants. The project is carried out incooperation between the two geography departments at Stockholm University (Human andPhysical) and the division of Human Ecology at Lund University.Abridged version of project proposal1. INTRODUCTIONStudies of the present and the historical global situation are either firmly based in the naturalsciences (climate, land cover, biodiversity) or in cultural and social studies (conflicts, culture,trade, population). Links between these two approaches are either weak or based on simplisticassumptions. This project seeks to develop frameworks for a truly historical and culturalunderstanding of causes and effects of land cover change. In order to better apprehendmechanisms at a global scale, without losing contact with the complexities of local realities, wewill focus our efforts on an regional study, and on how processes of change can be traced acrossvarious scales of interaction.It is based on three integrated sub-projects in human geography (post-doctoral project),anthropology (senior researcher) and physical geography with remote sensing (doctoral project).It contributes to the research on human resource use, food security and global environmentalchange through its genuine historical perspective and a conviction that local decisions governingland use and food production are largely dependent on processes and events occurring at aregional and global scale. Following recent research on environmental change in Africa we alsoquestion claims that necessarily emphasise population growth as either a solution toenvironmental problems and sustainable food production or as a major cause for resourcedepletion.A fundamental concern is to analyse both factors that contribute to investment in sustained foodproduction and environmental management, and factors that cause disinvestment in localresources. Land use and land cover changes will be traced over 150 years in relation to the historyof population, trade networks, political changes and climate.2. BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVESEfforts to assess global land cover changes and its causes ultimately depend on data gathered atmicro and meso scales. As noted by Lambin et al. (2001):"…the rich array of local-level human-environment case studies can be used to create regional“generalities” of land-use and land-cover change that promise to improve understanding andmodeling of critical themes in global change and sustainability studies." (p. 266)Hence, by bridging the gap between detailed local case studies and generalised macro-scalestudies, regional historical analysis holds a key position in understanding and tackling many of thegrand questions characterising recent and past environmental change on the continent.
  25. 25. 25According to Lambin and Ehrlich (1997) two processes of change are of particular importancefor the understanding of long-term sustainability of land use in Africa: the continuousdegradation in land-cover conditions over the decade (e.g., loss of vegetation cover) and thecontinuous improvement in land cover (e.g., gain in vegetation cover). Similarly, as shown in astudy from southwestern Ethiopia, both phases of contraction and expansion in cropland weredocumented during times of population growth, as a result of the combined effect of climatic,socio-political and biological causes (Reid et al. 2000).As shown by Lambin et al. (2001), Mortimore (1998), Broch-Due and Schroeder (2000), andothers, simplified explanations, related to population pressure or poverty, of grand environmentalchallenges, such as tropical deforestation, rangeland modification, desertification, agriculturalintensification and urbanization, underlie much of the common understanding of the causesbehind land use and land cover changes. Studies further demonstrate that such simplisticexplanations generally rely on deductive models, and the use of short-term data from localisedstudies (Guyer and Lambin 1993; Niejmeijer 1996). Neither contemporary nor historical foodproduction systems in Africa can be understood and measured in relationship to staticequilibrium models of optimal resource use (Goldman1995; Dahlberg 1994; Kjekshus 1977).We will apply a political-ecology approach that focuses on the social relations that structurepeoples’ access to and control of basic resources and how these relationships are linked to extralocal, regional and global processes in shaping local environments (Chew 2001; Hornborg 2001;Broch-Due and Schroeder 2000; Widgren and Sutton 2003; Håkansson 1989). Unlike, Neo-Malthusian and Boserupian perspectives (cf. Netting 1993, Turner et al. 1993, Djurfelt 2001), weargue, that increased population densities do not by themselves lead to environmentaldegradation or to agricultural intensification. Thus, we view the forms of land use, productivity,and the distribution of resources as the result of interactions and power relationships at severallevels of inter-community integration from local social institutions (Håkansson 1989, 1995, 1998)to regional/global processes (Hornborg 2001; Ferguson 1994). The building of local assets mayoccur when political power and long-term security is based on regional resources rather thandependent on external national/global linkages (Gudeman 2001).3. HYPOTHESESThe project will examine four parameters that affect food production and human environmentalimpact: 1. population. 2. climate. 3. trade, exchange, and markets, and 4. conflict. Thematically,Håkansson will focus on the issues of trade, exchange and the impact of national and globalpolitical and economic factors of change. Börjeson will examine the role of population dynamicsas a factor of regional interaction, including migration patterns and conflicts, and their relation toextreme weather events. The main task of the doctoral project will be to work with land-coverchanges (see project description below).1. Population. We will obtain spatial and temporal profiles of the co-variation betweenpopulation dynamics and food production in order to evaluate the importance of otherunderlying causes of land use and cover change, such as trade networks, and social and politicalrelations. A hypothesis is that, changes in agricultural practices and productivity also affectpopulation and migration patterns, as well as vice versa, thus creating self-reinforcing processesof change. The population variable must therefore be treated primarily as a regional factor ofchange (cf. McCann 1995). This is a fact that is largely neglected in more unidirectional anddeterministic theories on the role of population in agricultural development, e.g. Malthusian andBoserupian scenarios.
  26. 26. 262. Climate. An hypothesis is that extreme weather events, related to recent global warming orhistorically documented cases, such as the recurrent El Nino event, greatly affects regionalpatterns of food production and exchange. In order to combat the challenges of current globalwarming scenarios, which predicts an increase in catastrophic weather events, we will trace thehistory of such events in the study region and explore their effects on land use, trade networks,population movements and conflicts.3. Trade and exchange. Economic dependency through the capitalist world system created anextension in space of economic relationships that often led to a decline in local assetdevelopment in Africa and elsewhere (Guyer 1995). In eastern Africa exchange of goods andservices were, and are, still partly embedded in a ‘moral economy’ of social relationships, such asmarriage and kinship, that interface with markets and trade. We hypothesise that the influences ofworld-systems processes on regional trade and social exchanges affected land use and foodproduction. For example: a) Food import from outside the region leads to a decline in local foodproduction and deterioration in soil / vegetation conditions. b) Market or government producedrisks and low prices leads to decline in food production and low investment in land. c) Intensityof marriage and kinship relations between cultivators and pastoralists is directly related to theirability to adapt to new economic and demographic conditions.4. Conflict. Warfare, raiding, and ethnic tensions have a direct impact on the ability forcommunities by affecting regional trade, cooperation, and economic security in many parts ofAfrica. However, contrary to for example Larson et al. (2002 p. 6), we see conflicts, not simply as‘special cases’ of national development, but as an important factor for understanding the historyof food production and land use changes in a regional context (cf. Widgren in print, Widgren andSutton 2003). For example: a) conflicts may exclude land from productive and/or sustainable use,and create disincentives for sustainable land use, and b) conflicts may not always have beenmerely detrimental for economic interactions between groups of people, but have also co-existedalong with trade and exchange networks, as part of sustained economic interactions (Börjeson2003).ReferenserBroch-Due, V & R. A. Schroeder (eds.). 2000. Producing Nature and Poverty in Africa. Uppsala: Nordic Institute of African Studies.Bunnell, T.G. and Coe, N.M. 2001. Spaces and scales of innovation. Progress in Human Geography, 25(4): 569-589.Börjeson, Lowe. 2003. In Widgren, M. & J.E.G. Sutton (eds.).Chew, Sing, C. 2001. World Ecological Degradation. Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.Dahlberg, A. 1994. Contesting Views and Changing Paradigms. The land degradation debate in Southern Africa. Discussion Paper 6, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala.Djurfeldt, G. 2001. Mera Mat. Att brödföda en växande befolkning. Arkiv förlag, Lund.Ferguson, J. 1994. The Anti-Politics Machine. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press.Gibson, C. C. et al. 2000. The concept of scale and the human dimensions of global change: a survey. Ecological Economics, 32: 217-239.Goldman, A. 1995. Threats to Sustainability in African Agriculture: Searching for Appropriate Paradigms. Human Ecology, 23:291-334.Gudeman, S. 2001. The Anthropology of Economy. Oxford: Blackwell’s.Guyer, J. I. 1995. Introduction: The Currency Interface and Its Dynamics. In J. I. Guyer (ed.) Money Matters. London: James Currey.Guyer, J & E. F. Lambin 1993 Land Use in an Urban Hinterland: Ethnography and Remote Sensing in The Study of African Intensification. American Anthropologist 95(4).Hornborg, A. 2001. The Power of the Machine. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
  27. 27. 27Håkansson, N. T. 1989. Social and Political Aspects of Intensive Agriculture in East Africa: Some Models from Cultural Anthropology. Azania (Journal of the British Institute in Eastern Africa) 24:12-20.- 1995. Irrigation, Population Pressure, and Exchange in Pre-Colonial Pare of Tanzania. In Barry Isaac (ed.) Research in Economic Anthropology. Vol 16. Pp 297-323. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.- 1998. Rulers and Rainmakers in Pre-Colonial South Pare, Tanzania: The Role Exchange and Ritual Experts in Political Fragmentation. Ethnology 37:263-283.Kjekshus, H. 1977. Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History. Berkeley: University of California Press.Lambin, E. F. et al. 2001. The causes of land-use and land-cover change: moving beyond the myths. Global Environmental Change 11: 261-269.Lambin, E. F. and Ehrlich, D. 1997. Land-cover Changes in Sub-Saharan Africa (1982-1991): Application of a change Index Based on Remotely Sensed Surface Temperature and Vegetation Indices at a Continental Scale: REMOTE SENS. ENVIRON. 61:181-200.Larson, R., H. Holmén and M. Hammarskjöld. 2002. Agricultural Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Afrint Working Paper No. 1. Dept. of Sociology, Lund University.Liverman, D. Et al. 1998. People and Pixels. Linking Remote Sensing and Social Science. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.McCann, J.C. 1995. People of the Plow. An agricultural history of Ethiopia, 1800-1990. The University of Wisconsin Press, Wisconsin.McConnell, W. J. 2000. Human-environment relations in Madagascar: the importance of spatial and temporal perspective. Unpublished doctoral dissertation in Geography, Clark University, Massachusetts.Mortimer, M. 1998. Roots in the African Dust. Sustaining the Drylands. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press.Netting, Robert McC. 1993. Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Niemeijer, D. 1996. The Dynamics of African Agricultural History: Is it Time for a New Development Paradigm? Development and Change, 27:87-110.Nyerges, E. 2000. The Ethnography of Landscape: GIS and Remote Sensing in the Study of Forest Change in West African Guinea Savanna. American Anthropologist 102(2):271.289.Reid, R.S. Et al. 2000. Land-use and land-cover dynamics in response to changes in climatic, biological and socio- political forces: the case of southwestern Ethiopia. Landscape Ecology, 15: 339-355.Singh, A. 1989. Digital change detection techniques using remotely-sensed data: Int. J. Remote sensing. 10. 989-1003.Turner, B.L., Hydén, G. and Kates, R. (eds) 1993. Population Growth and Agricultural Change in Africa. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Widgren, Mats and John E. G. Sutton (eds). Forthcoming 2003. Islands of Intensive Agriculture in Eastern Africa. Oxford: James Currey.- In print. bin Ladin och bevattningstunnlarna – två perspektiv på hållbar samhällsutveckling. I essäbok utgiven omområdesgruppen för Kultur, Säkerhet och Hållbar samhällsutveckling. Riksbankens jubileumsfond Holocene Land Use in Central Africa : a GIS perspective Philippe Lavachery and Paul SinclairUsing GIS techniques, it is now possible to integrate sets of data that could not be computedeasily before. For instance the importance of soils for the understanding of prehistoric land usepatterns can now be assessed. Distribution maps of more than 400 dated Holocene sites inCentral Africa were compiled in three chronological groups ca 12000-3500BP, ca 3500-1000BPand 1000BP-recent. Soils within a 5km buffer around each site were compared statistically withthe overall distribution in the FAO soils map to address three questions. Did prehistoric peoplechoose specific soils for settlement? Did land use patterns change through time? Is there anycorrelation between technological and/or socio-economical changes and shifts in land use? Theresults seem clear: prehistoric communities preferred certain soils types, patterns of land usechanged during the Holocene and these changes can be correlated to the appearance of farmingin Central Africa.
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