Access, alienation, and the production of chronic liminality: Sixty years of frontier settlement in a Zambian park buffer zone

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12 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines several decades of cyclical shifts in the political ecology of a Zambian national park buffer zone, where Gwembe Tonga migrants have pioneered land for ambitious livelihood dreams, while repeatedly encountering challenges from the government, development programs, and host populations. The buffer zone is a marginal space where people, land, and animals come together at different moments in time and in different constellations, never definitively secure, and never definitively exiled. In the confusion of recurring cycles of access and alienation, pockets of power form, including governmental and non-governmental organizations that arrive, temporarily create new social elites and then depart. These cycles of access and alienation have normalized socioecological uncertainty and instability, that is, a state of "chronic liminality" that has led to ongoing vulnerability for the region's people and ecosystems. The results are acute socioeconomic differentiation, alarming outbursts of violence, and visible changes in land cover. The article draws on ethnographic and geospatial data collected in the Zambian field site from 1995-2010 and also on the longitudinal Gwembe Tonga Research Project data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-140
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Organization
Volume73
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2014

Keywords

  • Africa
  • agriculture
  • conservation
  • displacement
  • political ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences

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