Projects per year
Various critiques of transboundary natural resource governance in southern Africa have questioned the efficacy and social equity dimensions of prevailing strategies for protecting transnational ecosystems, highlighting the importance of sociological research on the potentially ‘other-ing’ impacts of mainstream conservation policy discourse. We draw on research in the Chimanimani Trans-Frontier Conservation Area (TFCA) on both sides of the Zimbabwe–Mozambique border, scrutinizing simplifications inherent in terms such as “illegal foreigners” that obfuscate histories and contemporary realities of cross-border social ties. Engaging perspectives of park authorities and chiefs as well as people who have taken up artisanal mining, we explore two related themes—how ‘belonging’ is negotiated as well as how conservation agendas are instrumentalized by state and non-state actors. Bringing attention to gaps between policy discourses surrounding TFCAs and territorialized practices of exclusion, the article concludes by calling for greater attention to the mutating significance of colonially established boundaries as well as the dynamic influences of social networks in borderland spaces.