-Department of Anthropology, University of McGill
This research project aims to elucidate contemporary dynamics and reshaping process of “traditional culture” and “ethnicity” of several groups in Southern Africa. Taking a case-sensitive approach to San communities in Botswana and South Africa, and the Swazi communities in Swaziland, the following three aspects are focused; 1. Land rights movement, 2. Traditional authority and leadership, 3. Traditional cultural tourism. The local strategies, interaction among the neighboring ethnic groups, and the relations with national and global communities in the three occasion are investigated. The research highlights the shared experiences among the different target communities reflecting macro-level southern African history and current political economic situation, as well as the distinctiveness of each communities in in different national and historical contexts.
During my stay at McGill University, I was provided with a shared office space associated with the Institutional Canopy of Conservation (I-CAN) project, and worked closely with the project leader, Prof. John Galaty and its young members. The I-CAN project aims to consider about conservation of East Africa’ s richest biodiversity by strengthening local livelihoods trough improving access rights to natural resources, income diversification, and green economic development, such as eco-tourism (I-CAN News Letter 2015). I was invited to the formal/informal meetings for the McGill-based I-CAN group, and discussed research outcomes and plans each other.
I also gave some talks for seminars, including “ Land Issues and Global Indigenous Rights Movement among the San hunter-gathers in Southern Africa: Comparison of two cases from Botswana and South Africa” for the Department Speakers Series of the Department of Anthropology, McGill University, “Resettlement, Conservation and Tourism: Contemporary Dynamics of Residential Moves among the San in Central Kalahari” for the Seminar Series of the Centre for Society, Technology, and Development (STandD) in McGill University, and “Coming to Political Consciousness: The Indigenous Land Rights Movement among the San of Southern Africa” for the Africanist Seminar Series of University of Toronto. Furthermore, I was given several opportunities to participate in seminars, lectures and symposiums and had occasions to exchange ideas with professors and researchers in the university.
Studying the social situation of indigenous peoples in Canada is also important propose of my visit to Canada. I could learn from on-going anthropological research on current indigenous affairs in Canada, and visit several indigenous organizations in Montreal.
The academic environment provided by the McGill University was great for my research project. Particularly, the discussion with I-CAN project members was quite meaningful. While the project focuses mainly on the East African Area, we share similar thematic issues, such as land rights, local livelihood strategies and social development. Comments and suggestions from Prof Galaty were always quite helpful for my research, and I could spend exciting time with my office mates as well as young scholars of Department of Anthropology.
In addition, the meetings with some of the experienced specialists in the San studies, such as Prof. Richard Lee, Prof. Mathias Guenther, and Prof Renee Sylvain was informative and encouraged me so much. The discussion with many researchers of the indigenous studies in North America inspired me to learn more the linkage between African indigenous rights movement and those of their senior counterpart in Canada, as well as to consider the particularity of the African movement.
During my stay in Canada, the data collected by my last fieldwork was analyzed, and some of them was presented in my talks. Comments and feedback from the participants to my talk were significant to drive forward my research project. Notably, I learned many things from the discussion on land issues with my colleagues at McGill, and found many possibilities of future research collaboration with I-CAN project. Furthermore, I wrote a paper on cultural tourism in Botswana, and edited a book on the indigenous peoples’ rights movement. I had several chances to understand the indigenous situation in Canada, but it was not enough to write a paper on it.
The discussion with my colleagues at McGill inspired my research plan in southern Africa. My next research will focus more on the cultural tourism in Botswana and Swaziland, with an aim to understand the meaning of “traditional culture” for the local peoples. It will be my last research for this project. Networking with academia of southern Africa will be important aims as well.