A landscape with objects: Private game reserves, game lodges and the 'New Safari'
This paper investigates the proliferation of high-end private game reserves in Africa as the manifestation of an emerging economic but also symbolic and emotional investment in the value of nature. Increasing concern for 'the environment' along with anxiety about the future of individual species has given the game reserve a special place in the contemporary global imagination. Through analysis of some of the ephemeral texts through which these fantasies and anxieties about nature are articulated - an advertisement, some publicity material and a design monograph - this paper explores a number of different objects which serve to mediate the relationship between the public and nature. Both the 4×4 whose increasing popularity seems to parallel that of the game reserve, and the carefully designed and decorated game lodges offer examples of the complex way in which die experience of nature needs to be mediated by objects in order to confirm nature as a site for the rediscovery of authenticity. Around the game lodge, I argue, there emerges a new discursive mode for articulating Africa, and South Africa's relationship with the world, a novel aesthetic known as the 'New Safari'. This design category goes beyond design to construct a moral and experiential fantasy in which conservation not as a practice but rather as an imagined value makes possible a disturbing reconceptualisation of the relation between the national and the global. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.