Rastafari bushdoctors and the challenges of transforming nature conservation in the Boland area

Olivier, Lennox Edward
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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In 2007 the National People and Parks Programme was rolled out as a platform for co-management between successful land claimants, indigenous natural resource user groups and conservation authorities. It aimed to promote social ‘transformation’ in conservation management by responding to the needs of all South Africans. This thesis engages with the efforts made by CapeNature Conservation Board and RasTafari bushdoctors in the Boland area to resolve a conflict around the illegal harvesting of indigenous medicinal flora from protected areas. An investigation into the discursive and material practices of the RasTafari bushdoctors reveal what they present as a substantially different way of being-with-nature in comparison to the historically produced dominant conception of nature. This difference cannot be understood outside the complex relations from which they emerge and allows a better understanding of the social condition for the possibility of Bossiedokters’ voices to be heard today. This thesis culminates with a critical analysis of recent dialogues between Bossiedokters and CapeNature around co-management platforms. These I argue reveal that the inequalities voiced by the healers are once again silenced by government practices ostensibly designed to uplift them. Conceptualising this conflict through the lens of ‘environmentality’ suggests its usefulness as well as its limitations in grasping contemporary South African dilemmas about transformation of nature. While RasTafari bushdoctors want to reclaim their social authority, the question remains how and whether they will be able to transform conservation practice before conservation practice transforms them.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Nasionale ‘People and Parks’ program was in 2007 aangekondig as die platform vir mede-bestuur tussen suksesvolle land eisers, inheemse natuurlike hulpbron gebruikersgroepe en natuurbewaringsowerhede. Dit het ten doel gestel om sosiale "transformasie" in natuurbewaring te bewerkstelling deur gehoor te gee aan die behoeftes van alle Suid-Afrikaners. Hierdie tesis vertolk die pogings aangewend deur CapeNature Conservation Board en RasTafari Bossiedokters in die Boland ten einde die konflik te oorkom rondom die onwettige oes van inheemse medisinale flora vaniut beskermde gebiede. Die ontleding van die diskursiewe en materiële praktyke van die RasTafari Bossiedokters openbaar hoe hul vertolking van hul unieke wyse van omgang-met-natuur staan in kontras met die dominante histories-geproduseerde opvatting van die natuur. Hierdie verskil kan nie verstaan word buite die komplekse sosiale verhoudinge waaruit dit materialiseer nie, en kan bydra tot 'n beter begrip van die sosiale toestande benodig om te verseker dat die Bossiedokters se stemme meer helder gehoor kan word. Hierdie tesis ontwikkel as 'n kritiese ontleding van onlangse dialoë tussen Bossiedokters en CapeNature soos gevoer rondom mede-bestuur platforms. Die dialoë openbaar dat aanklagtes van sosiale ongelykheid gemaak deur die Bossiedokters, bloot stilgemaak word deur die regering se strukture, ten spyte daarvan dat die strukture oënskynlik ontwerp was om hierdie ongelykhede aan te spreek. My konseptualisering van hierdie konflik as ‘n voorbeeld van 'environmentality’, toets die toepaslikheid sowel as die tekortkominge van hierdie konsep om sin te maak van kontemporêre Suid-Afrikaanse dilemmas aangaande die transformasie van die natuur. Die RasTafari Bossiedokters poog steeds om hul sosiale aansien te herwin, maar die vraag bly staan of hulle in staat sal wees en hoe hulle tewerk moet gaan ten einde natuurbewaring se praktyke te verander voordat natuurbewaringspraktyke hulle verander.
Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.
CapeNature Conservation Board, Nature conservation -- South Africa -- Boland, Transformation -- South Africa -- Boland, Traditional healers -- South Africa -- Boland, Dissertations -- Sociology and social anthropology, Theses -- Sociology and social anthropology, Rastafarians -- South Africa -- Boland