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The Ovambo Paradox And Environmental Pluralism

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Chapter Summary

Paradigms are unilinear because they describe change in linear fashion that occurs along a Nature-to-Culture gradient and homogenize analysis because they depict environmental change as an undifferentiated single process with a singular outcome: degradation, improvement or a stable state. Descriptions of the early twentieth-century Ovambo floodplain environment depict settlements characterized by farms neighboring each other, with towering fruit trees and dense woody vegetation located on the edges of the farms and between the villages. Ovamboland in the twentieth century saw both deforestation and reforestation. Colonial policies resulted in the deglobalization of pastoralism and hunting and the decommodification of domestic and wild animals, while conservation and disarmament led to a resurgence of wild animal predation. Analyses of environmental change and extinction should go beyond conceptualizations of Nature-to-Culture and outcomes and focus on understanding environmental pluralism as a means for addressing the environmental challenges that confront Earth, in Africa and elsewhere.

Keywords: Africa; environmental pluralism; Nature-to-Culture; Ovambo paradox



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