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At Home in the Okavango

White Batswana Narratives of Emplacement and Belonging

Catie Gressier

244 pages, 4 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78238-773-2 $100.00/£71.00 Hb Published (August 2015)

eISBN 978-1-78238-774-9 eBook


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At Home in the Okavango is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the politics of belonging, safari tourism, and the meaning of whiteness in Botswana, Africa and beyond. Catie Gressier systematically leads her readers to her conclusion in an innovative synthesis of theoretical frames from political ecology, multispecies ethnography, the anthropology of whiteness, and the anthropology of race through the application and expansion of her concept of ‘experiential autochthony’.” · The Australian Journal of Anthropology

At Home in the Okavango has all the hallmarks of a classic ethnography: as an in-depth ethnographic exploration of a small group of people, it is testament to the value of extensive participant observation and Gressier’s perceptiveness as a fieldworker… Beautifully written… this is an ethnography to think with, to use in comparison, to employ to illuminate old issues from fresh angles; and I expect it will be of interest to anyone researching belonging, autochthony, whiteness, race relations but also emplacement and human–environment relations. In summary, this is a marvel of ethnography, showcasing anthropology at its best, forging clearly signposted paths leading from the specific to the general and from the local to the global.” · Anthropological Forum

“a valuable study of identity and belonging in the contemporary world in which simplistic associations between people and places can no longer be supported, and it also gives hope for race and ethnic relations in other countries.” · Anthropology Review Database

“[This book] is a beautifully written, well argued, and insightful piece of work, full of fascinating and important observations. It addresses key issues in Africa, including those surrounding questions of identity, belonging, and citizenship.” · Robert K. Hitchcock, University of New Mexico at Albuquerque

“The ethnography presented in this important book is original and rich, analyzed in a theoretically well-informed way. It reveals very well how a white minority in this region — which is marred by ethnic violence and racism — has developed a sense of belonging and peaceful relationships within the larger community, where black people form the great majority.” · Ørnulf Gulbrandsen, University of Bergen

An ethnographic portrayal of the lives of white citizens of the Okavango Delta, Botswana, this book examines their relationships with the natural and social environments of the region. In response to the insecurity of their position as a European-descended minority in a postcolonial African state, Gressier argues that white Batswana have developed cultural values and practices that have allowed them to attain high levels of belonging. Adventure is common for this frontier community, and the book follows their safari lifestyles as they construct and perform localized identities in their interactions with dangerous wildlife, the broader African community, and the global elite via their work in the nature-tourism industry.

Catie Gressier is a McArthur Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Subject: General Anthropology
Area: Africa

LC: DT2520.O53 G74 2015

BISAC: SOC015000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Human Geography; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography; RGC Human geography




Contents

List of Maps
Acknowledgments

Introduction: Waiting for the Flood


Chapter 1. Connections to the Natural Environment
Chapter 2. Photographic Tourism, Emplacement and Belonging
Chapter 3. Hunting and Ambiguity in Belonging
Chapter 4. Belonging and the Nation
Chapter 5. Race Relations and Community Ties in the Okavango

Conclusion: Making a Plan to Belong

Bibliography
Index

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