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CREATING A COMMODIFIED WILDERNESS: TOURISM, PRIVATE GAME FARMING, AND ‘THIRD NATURE’ LANDSCAPES IN KWAZULU-NATAL

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ABSTRACT

This article explores contemporary cultural geographies and underlying histories of change on private land in post-apartheid South Africa. Its focus is the expansion of wildlife-based tourism and related forms of commodified wilderness consumption in KwaZulu-Natal province. The article explores the social and economic processes occurring on game farms in a region known as the Midlands. Here nature is being culturally (re)constructed on former farmlands to create new landscapes shaped by the demands of wildlife-based tourism. In pursuit of these ‘third nature’ dreams, spaces often need to be physically changed as well as discursively repositioned through marketing. Yet this is not an unchallenged process: the presence of ‘farm dwellers’ living on privately owned land disrupts smooth progress to a refashioned wilderness landscape. The article identifies various strategies employed by landowners in order to minimise the presence of farm dwellers on their land. In the current context, the involvement of the state on private land adds a further layer of complexity. Land reform policies and programmes serve as a mesh through which these contestations are filtered. While their effects are often ambiguous, land claims in particular serve to challenge the ‘third nature’ dream of landowners.
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Keywords: KwaZulu-Natal; Wildlife-based tourism; labour tenancy; land reform; social and cultural geography; wilderness construction

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein Campus, Bloemfontein 9301, South Africa., Email: brookssj@ufs.ac.za 2: Department of Organisation Studies, VU University, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands. s: ; annemariekolk@hotmail.com, Email: lotvanbrakel@gmail.com 3: School of Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa., Email: bruce29lu@yahoo.com

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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