Dwelling and building in Ngamiland, Northern Botswana
This thesis is an investigation of the ways in which activities of house-building are woven into the histories and biographies of the people of Ngamiland in nothern Botswana. Criticising those approaches in anthropology that have tended to see forms of buildings as the symbolic expressions of (or metaphors for) aspects of social order, the thesis argues that building practices are themselves embedded in the current of social activity - that is, of dwelling - which, over time, is generative of both persons and places. Just as every inhabitant enfolds within his or her person a set of relations with others, which are played out in the manifold tasks of everyday dwelling (including building), so every place (including the buildings found there) embodies a set of relations with other places. The first set of relations, essentially social, are captured by the notion of the taskscape, the second set, essentially material, by the notion of landscape. The thesis seeks to demonstrate the dynamic interplay between taskscape and landscape, or between social and material relations over time. The thesis argues for several important ways in which this dynamic relationship can be considered anthropologically. The first is the notion of the 'otherplaceness' of dwelling, in which the inherent interconnectedness of the landscape is highlighted, describing the ways in which both personal biographies and the material biographies of places are mutually creative over time. This is extended to investigate the relationship between social and material permanence in the landscape through an analysis of the ways in which building with concrete has affected everyday dwelling. Another key notion is that dwelling involves a wide range of social practices that can be understood as containing both forces of a centrifugal (movement away from a centre) and centripetal (movement toward a centre) nature, being an important aspect of how social practice and homestead form are interrelated over time. This is also extended in the final chapter through an exploration of the ways in which the materiality of the homestead is interwoven with memory, biography and personal history.