University of Hamburg - Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
||University of Hamburg
Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Edmund Siemers Allee 1 (West)
About the Institute / Working Group
The Institute of Anthropology is one of the largest anthropological institutes Germany. It is internationally recognized for its special focus on human-environment relationships (institutions for water and land management, social-ecological-systems, local ecological knowledge), which are addressed from a theoretical perspective informed by political ecology. Its main regional focus is Southern Africa and Latin America.
Field of Expertise
The working group headed by Michael Schnegg has a strong research and publication record in analysing social-ecological systems (SES) in Southern Africa. Our work in Namibia has shown
how current SES have emerged in colonial and postcolonial times (Schnegg 2007),
how people currently use natural resources to sustain their livelihoods (Pröpper 2009, Schnegg 2009),
how natural resource use is embedded in regional, national and global networks (Schnegg & Bolten 2007, Schnegg 2006a, 2006b) and
how different management regimes impact the environment (Pröpper 2008, 2009a, Schnegg et al accepted, Schnegg & Welle 2007).
The working group builds on long term experience of doing research in Namibia and is well linked with a network of local and regional scientists and stakeholders across the larger region. Furthermore the working group has intensive experience with capacity building through the training of para-ecologists and field assistants. Over the years it has initiated successful participatory stakeholder processes and has put forth products for the empowerment of local land users (Dawids et al 2007, Pröpper & Gruber 2007). Members dispose of long term experience with scientific coordination and research logistics aspects in other research projects in the wider region (ACACIA, BIOTA , BIOLOG).
Understanding local ecological knowledge in the Kavango region of Namibia
Lings (Local Institutions in Globalized Societies, DFG-funded) analyzes how people develop institutions for water management in rural Namibia and what social and ecological consequences different institutions have.
Local water-point institutions and management in the Northwest of Namibia
TFO (The Future Okavango) aims at improved scientific support for decision making with regard to sustainable use of land and ecosystem services within the Okavango basin in Angola, Namibia and Botswana, with its woodland savannas and wetlands. This working Group will be strongly involved in the coordination of this interdisciplinary project with a clear capacity development and implementation component.
The utilization of water and ecosystem services in the Okavango Delta of Botswana
Research Proposals for SASSCAL
The general aim of this anthropological project is to show how population dynamics impact the environment. While HIV/Aids related mortality currently leads to a massive loss in lives and labour in southern Africa national and international migration to productive ecosystems results in increasing conflicts between local, multi-local and absent water and land users. On the long run, the population of the SADAC region is estimated so grow significantly. Building on our previous experience in interdisciplinary and participatory research this project uses methods from anthropological demography to document and model the population development at the local level under different scenarios. Based on these results we seek to develop science based solutions to distributive conflicts about water and land that emerge between local, multi-local and absent land and water users. These solutions will be transformed into benefit sharing schemes applied and evaluated by local communities.
Cultures of consumption
However, it is not population numbers alone that make the difference. Changing patterns of consumption are a key driver of ecosystem change. This project seeks to analyse how the market integration of subsistence oriented producers in rural hinterlands leads to new patterns of consumption and eventually to new ways of exploring and commodifying the environment. Building on our previous research this project uses methods from anthropology and consumer research to document changing consumer preferences and patterns. Based on these results we seek to develop solutions that foster sustainable consumption, economic development and well-being in rural communities.
Culture and the environment
Attempts to improve natural resource management on the community level can only be successful if they rest on an understanding of local ecological knowledge (LEK). This project seeks to develop a baseline survey to study current qualitative and quantitative states and possible changes of LEK through new methodologies developed in cognitive anthropology. The short term aim of this project is to describe and monitor the cultural dimension of water and land management. On the medium term we aim to install these monitoring tools as panel surveys that can be conducted and published by local scientists. On the longer run these results will feed into decision making systems how to improve natural resource management using the chances cultural knowledge entails.
Capacity Development Portfolio of the Working Group
The working group has a record in academic and stakeholder knowledge transfer and grassroots capacity development. In BIOTA project-members have been involved in the supervision and training of BIOTA para-ecologists. Several awareness films have been produced to discuss alternative forest uses in the Kavango Region of Namibia (Pröpper & Gruber 2007; Pröpper 2009).
Group members have been regularly holding guest-lectures at the University Centre for Studies in Namibia (TUCSIN).
Filming on the woodland savanna of Northeastern Namibia
Services offered for SASSCAL
For RSSC one idea that we suggest are transcontinental Master Programme in Environmental Anthropology or Political Ecology. These jointly developed and taught courses could run for two years and take place in Germany (1 year) and in Africa (1 year) and teach students how humans and the environment interact. The programme would prepare for a career in ministries and NGOs deal with issues of sustainable and just resource management practices.