Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Wellbeing on the edge : the dynamics of Musundian edge-dwelling on the boundaries of protected natural areas in Limpopo, South Africa
Author: Abrams, Amber L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 8860
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines the impacts of a protected natural area (Makuya park) on residents of Musunda village in Limpopo, South Africa. The creation of protected natural areas entails the formation of boundaries to limit access and resource use, often under the assumption that the isolation from human activity will allow 'natural' environments/habitats to re-emerge. When humans are not afforded a place in protected spaces, 'edge-dwellers' emerge. This thesis explores how the resulting changes in land use and access can impact the availability, distribution, and quality of strategically important resources, and thus influence a wide range of ecological, epidemiological, and economic processes that directly and indirectly impinge on an individual's wellbeing. Based on over two years of ethnographic fieldwork in the HaMakuya chieftaincy, this thesis aims to explore the tangible and intangible ways in which Makuya park impacts on Musundian edge-dwellers efforts to achieve wellbeing. Specific research questions include: How do edge-dwellers understand, discuss, and enact wellbeing? How and when are natural resources used toward achieving wellbeing? How and when does land access shape land use in terms of wellbeing and in what ways? Have shifts in practices occurred as a result of the formation of protected areas? I address these questions by engaging with current debates in social, medical and environmental anthropology. Using Cohen's (2013) 'ecologies of wellbeing' as a matrix through which to explore local conceptions of health/wellbeing (mutakalo), this thesis engages with a historical 'political ecology of health' (Harper 2002) and conservation to consider health and wellbeing within 'environmental perspectives' (McElroy and Townsend 2009). In focusing on the everyday practices of Musundians, this thesis foregrounds local notions of health (mutakalo) and local perceptions of natural resource limitations imposed by the park as a way to understand edge-dwellers' local ecologies of wellbeing. This thesis provides TshiVenda speakers' (an under-represented group) perspectives; it shows the negative impacts that the park has on resource access, diet, relationships and local healing practices according to edge-dwellers. Questioning how Musundians maintained ambivalence in these challenging circumstances, I discuss how I came to realize that the park is locally understood to offer the promise of 'good things.' Exploring the ways in which hope and the park intersect, I describe how the park has become incorporated into local ecologies of wellbeing. This thesis explores some wellbeing-related experiences of Musunda's edge-dwellers, while considering the park's influence on those dwelling on the boundary of a protected natural area thereby contributing to social anthropology scholarship at the intersection of environmental and medical anthropology. In doing this, this thesis draws on related disciplines in the social sciences, contributing to literatures in human geography, public health and ecology.
Supervisor: Alexiades, Miguel ; Peluso, Daniela Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology