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Driver, Thackwray (1998) The Theory and Politics of Mountain Rangeland Conservation and Pastoral Development in Colonial Lesotho. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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During the 1930s and 1940s there was a huge increase in state interventions into the African rural economy, society and environment by both British colonial and settler governments. These interventions, carried out in the name of conservation and development, have received increased attention from historians in recent years, crucially because of the often violent opposition they encountered from the supposed beneficiaries, but also because of the apparent continuity between colonial and postcolonial development interventions. This thesis traces the history of colonial conservation and development policies in the mountain zone of Lesotho. As the vast majority of the area is given over to communal grazing it is hardly surprising that these interventions concentrated almost exclusively on the livestock sector. The major colonial intervention in the mountain livestock sector consisted of a policy to close totally a huge swathe of communal grazing land, in order to allow the range to return to its 'climatic climax'. The discourse of conservation and development in Lesotho was broadly similar to elsewhere in Africa, though the specific policies were largely shaped by local concerns. The thesis traces the development of this discourse and identifies the reasons why colonial officials became concerned about the mountain environment. The thesis places a particular stress on the science that informed colonial officials' understanding of the mountain ecology and allowed them to draw conclusions about environmental change, despite the almost total lack of data. In contrast to many similar policies attempted elsewhere, there are no reports of resistance in Lesotho, despite the fact that the major policy (the grazing closures) would have had a huge impact on the livelihoods of local communities. The thesis argues that the reason that there was no resistance was that the policy was never actually implemented, despite the official reports of success. An explanation for this gap between rhetoric and reality has to be sought in the realm of local, national and international politics.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:31

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