Temporal heterogeneity in the study of African land use: Interdisciplinary collaboration between anthropology, human geography and remote sensing

Jane I. Guyer, Eric F. Lambin, Lisa Cliggett, Peter Walker, Kojo Amanor, Thomas Bassett, Elizabeth Colson, Rod Hay, Katherine Homewood, Olga Linares, Opoku Pabi, Pauline Peters, Thayer Scudder, Matthew Turner, John Unruh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This paper introduces a set of four collaborative papers exploring temporal heterogeneity in the analysis of African land use over a decadal time period, from 10 to 50 years, in the second half of the twentieth century. The four cases were chosen amongst the seven teams of anthropologists, human geographers and remote sensing specialists who had carried out long-term research and who met to discuss their findings at a workshop in 2003. All seven teams' work and the collective discussion'on Casamance (Senegal), Brong Ahafo (Ghana), Southern Niger/ Northern Cote d'Ivoire, Oyo State (Nigeria), Maasai Mara (Kenya and Tanzania), Gwembe (Zambia), and Malawi - inform this introduction. We identify several temporal processes in all the cases, each operating on its own temporal frame: population growth and, above all, mobility; livelihood change through crop and occupational change; tenure ambiguity; powerful though "punctuated" interventions by state policy; and climate change. Conceptual and methodological implications are disussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A workshop in 2003 at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences was financed by The Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology Division (BCS0245289).

Funding Information:
Acknowledgment We gratefully acknowledge the support for the two meetings which this collection brings to fruition. A conference on African Farmers and their Environment in Long Term Perspective at the Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands, in 1995, was funded by the National Science Foundation International Programs (9501422) and the Rockefeller Foundation.


  • African land use
  • Anthropology
  • Long term studies
  • Remote sensing
  • Temporal heterogeneity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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