Dividing the Commons: Politics, Policy and Culture in Botswana

Dividing the Commons: Politics, Policy and Culture in Botswana

By: Pauline E. Peters (author)Paperback

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Debates about resource allocation and development strategies in Africa tend to polarise between those who invoke theories justifying privatisation everywhere and those who cite failed projects and culturally specific understandings to question its feasibility in Africa. Adherents to these positions generally talk past one another. ""Dividing the Commons"" is a study of the political and cultural dynamics of privatisation of rangeland in southern Botswana that provides a way of advancing debate. At the centre of the book is an examination of syndicates, groups of cattlemen who own and manage boreholes (deep wells with motorised pumps), from the 1930s to 1994. Changes in herd and range management, increasing numbers of cattle and boreholes, and the contradiction between private water sources and a communal range have all combined to promote private claims to pastures. The Tribal Grazing Land Policy put into practice since the mid 1970s has intensified the shift to privatisation. Pauline E. Peters shows how the current grazing land policy, like the water development policies of the 1930s, is part of an historical process through which resources are allocated, wealth created or destroyed, and some interests promoted at the cost of others. At the heart of the dividing of the common range are struggles over meanings, cultural contestations over the definitions of property and the priority of rights. Peter's analysis provides the basis for a stringent critique of Hardin's ""tragedy of the commons"" thesis, one of the most influential paradigms of our time. She also demonstrates that the models used by analysts and policymakers to interpret or direct change in Botswana's range are just as much cultural and political products as are the practices and ideas of the Tswana cattlemen and syndicates. ""Dividing the Commons"" should be of interest to students and specialists of African studies, politics and political economy; development studies, pastoral resources management, and property relations; and the history and theory of anthropology.

About Author

Pauline E. Peters is Research Associate at the Harvard Institute for International Development and Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780813915517
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 320
  • ID: 9780813915517
  • ISBN10: 0813915511

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