Conflicts over space in the Maloti-Drakensberg transfrontier conservation and development area (MDTFCA)

Authors: Melissa Hansen*, University of the Free State
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Political Geography
Keywords: Spatial production, spatial conflicts, spatial justice, the politics of sustainability.
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Proteus, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Maloti-Drakensberg transfrontier conservation and development area (MDTFCA) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spanning areas in both South Africa and Lesotho. The socio-political, economic, cultural, and ecological dynamics of the area are complex and historically laden. The area is is home to almost two million people. Challenges related to cross border crime such as stock theft; land degradation and unsustainable land use; cultural and heritage management; and transboundary co-operation in natural resource governance, are significant. I interrogate conflictual processes of spatial production in the MDTFCA, focusing on the implications for social justice. I draw inspiration from Lefebvre’s method for analysing processes of spatial production. I focus on how and according to what strategy the space of the MDTFCA has been socially produced. Processes of spatial production are analysed through broad policy frameworks for regional development, as well as through legislative and other documents related to the implementation of World Heritage conservation. The status of the MDTFCA as a World Heritage Site raises it above the status of the local territory and, often beyond the decision-making authority of people living in the area, and their local governance bodies. This is a meta-political kind of mis-framing, that leads to the social exclusion of the global poor (Fraser 2010). This raises questions around the ‘politics of sustainability’. The research draws on constructivist and critical approaches in the social sciences.

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