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What is the Wonder? An ethnography of 'rewilding' at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Aardenburg, Elizabeth Cornelia LU (2017) SIMV29 20171
Graduate School
Department of Political Science
Abstract
‘Rewilding’, or the return of degraded lands to a state of ‘wilderness’, is a bold attempt to resolve the world’s ecological challenges. It however does not address the division between nature and society, which lies at the core of the issues. According to Marshall Sahlins (1972) and Nurit Bird-David (1992), indigenous people relate to ‘nature’ in a markedly different way than Westerners. Capturing the social meanings, practices and ideas that they attach to ‘nature’ might assist in developing spiritual ‘rewilding’ strategies that 1) deal with key philosophical questions, and 2) empower a historically marginalised part of the global population. Problematic and overly simplistic is the underlying notion of an ‘Indigenous Other’. Seeking to... (More)
‘Rewilding’, or the return of degraded lands to a state of ‘wilderness’, is a bold attempt to resolve the world’s ecological challenges. It however does not address the division between nature and society, which lies at the core of the issues. According to Marshall Sahlins (1972) and Nurit Bird-David (1992), indigenous people relate to ‘nature’ in a markedly different way than Westerners. Capturing the social meanings, practices and ideas that they attach to ‘nature’ might assist in developing spiritual ‘rewilding’ strategies that 1) deal with key philosophical questions, and 2) empower a historically marginalised part of the global population. Problematic and overly simplistic is the underlying notion of an ‘Indigenous Other’. Seeking to contribute to the literature on ‘rewilding’ in a manner that acknowledges social complexity, this thesis builds on Mary Douglas’ cultural theory and the interpretation thereof by Michael Thompson, Richard Ellis and Aaron Wildavsky (1990). Studying ‘indigeneity’ essentially involves the politics of land. Based on three months of fieldwork at the ‘rewilded’ Eastern Shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, I explore two opposing claims to land by the indigenous Mbuyazi (Bhangazi) tribe, and the nearby Mpukonyoni Tribal Authority. After the previous apartheid government removed the Bhangazi people from the shores, where they had allegedly been living independently and self-sufficiently, they wanted to ‘return’ to their lands in the post-apartheid era. Meanwhile, the Mpukonyoni Tribal Authority sought to ‘benefit’ from the area’s mining and tourism potentials. The African National Congress-led government eventually took a neoliberal route of redress for past racial injustices, which does not necessarily tackle ‘indigenous’ people’s marginalisation. Current institutional failures complicate the achievement of social justice in this specific case. (Less)
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author
Aardenburg, Elizabeth Cornelia LU
supervisor
organization
course
SIMV29 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
land reform, conservation, indigenous people, traditional authority, cultural theory
language
English
id
8922050
date added to LUP
2017-11-16 11:59:44
date last changed
2017-11-16 11:59:44
@misc{8922050,
  abstract     = {‘Rewilding’, or the return of degraded lands to a state of ‘wilderness’, is a bold attempt to resolve the world’s ecological challenges. It however does not address the division between nature and society, which lies at the core of the issues. According to Marshall Sahlins (1972) and Nurit Bird-David (1992), indigenous people relate to ‘nature’ in a markedly different way than Westerners. Capturing the social meanings, practices and ideas that they attach to ‘nature’ might assist in developing spiritual ‘rewilding’ strategies that 1) deal with key philosophical questions, and 2) empower a historically marginalised part of the global population. Problematic and overly simplistic is the underlying notion of an ‘Indigenous Other’. Seeking to contribute to the literature on ‘rewilding’ in a manner that acknowledges social complexity, this thesis builds on Mary Douglas’ cultural theory and the interpretation thereof by Michael Thompson, Richard Ellis and Aaron Wildavsky (1990). Studying ‘indigeneity’ essentially involves the politics of land. Based on three months of fieldwork at the ‘rewilded’ Eastern Shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, I explore two opposing claims to land by the indigenous Mbuyazi (Bhangazi) tribe, and the nearby Mpukonyoni Tribal Authority. After the previous apartheid government removed the Bhangazi people from the shores, where they had allegedly been living independently and self-sufficiently, they wanted to ‘return’ to their lands in the post-apartheid era. Meanwhile, the Mpukonyoni Tribal Authority sought to ‘benefit’ from the area’s mining and tourism potentials. The African National Congress-led government eventually took a neoliberal route of redress for past racial injustices, which does not necessarily tackle ‘indigenous’ people’s marginalisation. Current institutional failures complicate the achievement of social justice in this specific case.},
  author       = {Aardenburg, Elizabeth Cornelia},
  keyword      = {land reform,conservation,indigenous people,traditional authority,cultural theory},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {What is the Wonder? An ethnography of 'rewilding' at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa},
  year         = {2017},
}