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Naturalizing Cattle Culture: Colonialism As A Deglobalizing And Decommodifying Force

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Chapter Summary

Models of environmental change derived from the Nature-Culture dichotomy posit a precolonial, undifferentiated Natural subsistence economy that is penetrated by a colonial, market economy Culture. The history of cattle management and use in the Angolan-Namibian border region complicates unilinear Nature-to-Culture narratives of environmental change. Cattle were a global market commodity in the Ovambo flood plain before the colonial conquest; only during and because of colonial rule were it reduced to a resource for local trade and subsistence. It was also a critical local material and social currencies. It retained a substantial level of commodification locally, despite having been decommodified at the level of the formal colonial and international markets after the imposition of colonial rule. Colonialism, neither unambiguously promoted a market economy transition from Nature to Culture, nor was colonialism an unequivocal harbinger of economic globalization and its attendant environmental consequences.

Keywords: Angolan-Namibian; cattle culture; Colonialism; Nature-Culture; Ovambo



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