The Spectator’s and the Dweller’s Perspectives

Experience and Representation of the Etosha National Park, Namibia
  • Ute Dieckmann
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 4)


In this contribution I exemplarily analyse two different ways of looking at the same environment, that is, the Etosha National Park in north-central Namibia. I portray the view of the western tourists visiting the area and on the other hand the perspective of the Hai||om, a San group which up to the 1950s resided within the park area and lived predominantly from hunting and gathering. It is argued that the perspectives – the spectator’s view and, following Ingold’s terminology (Ingold, 2000, p. 189), the ‘dweller’s perspective’ – are influenced by long-established cultural concepts and by the mode in which space is experienced and engaged. Both factors, the conceptualisation of and the engagement with space, are closely intertwined and have to be contextualised politically and historically in order to arrive at meaningful explanations of landscape visions and comprehension. The tourists’ view is shaped by the Western aesthetical perspective of landscapes and a broad idea of how African sceneries should look. The tourists are located outside of the environment and visual features dominate their experience. The angle of the Hai||om is one from within and is affected by their active engagement with the land. For the Hai||om the Etosha landscape is not merely scenery, but a network of paths, of social relations, and of places imbued with social identity.


National Park Family Group Game Reserve Tourist Facility Black Rhino 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ute Dieckmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Cultural and Social AnthropologyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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