Rivers are in the centre of dynamic landscapes in Southern Africa marked by competing narratives of land use and land claims. The panel addresses continuities and ruptures of these changing uses and claims by exploring interdisciplinary archives of river landscapes in Southern Africa and beyond.
The panel explores the interlinkages of landscapes and archives along African rivers. Irrespective of how landscape is conceptualised, materially or discursively, landscape is always subject to change, and as such reflects continuities and disruptions: Natural processes (geological, fluvial, climatic) and human interactions (agriculture, settlements, mining, infrastructure) leave physical traces in the landscape. Whereas changing regimes of representations (paintings, maps, story-telling) generate new and often competing discursive landscapes. In other words, the panel asks how information stored in river landscapes allows for reconstructing narratives of the past. The panel hence welcomes papers that explore narratives lodged in river landscapes from diverse disciplines using and combining varieties of data, as well as theoretical contributions that seek to bring together competing narratives of river landscapes.
The panel convenors are involved in the interdisciplinary research project Space in Time that explores landscape narratives and land management changes along the Lower Orange River marking the border between Namibia and South Africa. This region's patterns of water and land use have experienced profound changes over the last centuries. Today, large-scale nature conservation and agriculture projects both benefit from the river (and the border) and are at the same time the driving forces behind a further restructuring of the region, in which large parts of the population remain poor. The panel seeks to broaden the regional, conceptual and theoretical scope of this project and invites papers that contribute to interdisciplinary theoretical and empirical engagements with changing patterns of land use, land rights and landscape narratives along rivers.