A new paper about Treesleeper Camp, where I used to work long ago and where I will go back soon (and about which I have written various papers in the past). I wrote it together with my collegues Verina Ingram and Mariska Bijsterbosch. The paper addresses the project’s challenges at a local level, and how these have been affected by historical and contemporary social construtions of paternalism, something I have written about before (in relation to the private sector and development fieldworkers, including myself). However, in this paper we look very specifically at the role of the state’s paternalism in this type of development projects in relation to Bushmen groups. The abstract:
The Namibian government promotes community-based tourism (CBT) as market-based development. At Treesleeper Eco-camp, a CBT-project among marginalised Hai//om and !Xun Bushmen (San), we investigate how Bushmen’s historically developed paternalist
relations shape contemporary local institutional processes. Institutional design principles, seen as prerequisites for stable and robust institutions (norms, rules and regulations), and thus successful CBT, are used to analyse local changes of the project in
relation to a government grant. Ironically, after the grant, Treesleeper generated less income and the consequent ‘upgrade’ intensified conflicts. This study shows that community control, ownership and participation are key factors for successful CBT projects, but currently the state has obstructed these, just as various other ‘superior’ actors have also done (throughout history) in relation to ‘inferior’ Bushmen. We argue that paternalist ideologies perpetuate today in the Bushmen’s relation with the state, leading to weaker institutions locally through dispossession of their sovereignty.