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Songs of Mobility and Belonging: Gender, Spatiality and the Local in Southern Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Development

Impey, Angela (2013) 'Songs of Mobility and Belonging: Gender, Spatiality and the Local in Southern Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Development.' Interventions. International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 15 (2). pp. 255-271.

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Abstract

Western Maputaland is located in the borderlands of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. The combination of poverty, rural remoteness and exceptional ecological diversity has long made the region a target of conservationists and development planners, locating it centrally within the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA). While driven by the rhetoric of ‘participatory biodiversity management’, which links environmental conservation with economic development, the fulfillment of the transboundary project remains dependent upon exogenous resources and authority, and conservation agencies are ambivalent towards local demands for self-determined development. This paper examines the politics of land in Western Maputaland, its position in local memories, and its foundation in spatial practices and cultural identities. More specifically, as conservation developments have affected women differently to men, my analysis focuses on the ways in which mobilities and gender intersect in a changing landscape, and how meanings given to varying mobilities through sound, song and performance inflect local experiences of land, spatiality and belonging. Building on narratives inspired by the revival of mouth-bows and the jews harp, once performed by young women as walking songs, but remembered now by elderly women only, the paper discusses how memories invoked through sounding in place and motion rehearse and revitalize senses of place. Its aim is ultimately to provide witness to transboundary conservation planners for a more culturally integrated and economically apposite reimagining of southern African borderlandscapes.

Item Type: Articles
Keywords: Southern African borderlands, biodiversity conservation, walking songs, gender, memory, belonging
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology > Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Music
ISSN: 1369801X
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): 10.1080/1369801X.2013.798475
Depositing User: Angela Impey
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2013 10:00
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/15717

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