Fenced in by Ideas of Modernity: Land Struggles and Civic Activism in Namaqualand, 1980–1993
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Struggles over access to environmental resources often generate vigorously contested discourses on the meanings of property, land, development, community and tradition. In this chapter I explore how the Namaqualand landscape has, especially since the 1980s, become symbolically and materially contested terrain. The Namaqualand case study reveals the complex ways in which environmental resource struggles can mobilize actions, shape social identities and condition understandings of collective interests. Although meanings may reinforce inequalities, Moore reminds us that Gramsci’s notion of hegemony suggests that ‘dominant meanings are always contested, never totalising, and always unstable’ (Moore, 1993:383). Likewise, the meanings of development, democracy, modernity and tradition are seldom cast in stone, but are instead constantly contested, defended and reinvented.
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