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Open Access Publications from the University of California


As an ORU, the Center for African Studies seeks to increase the extent, depth, and quality of research and teaching on Africa within the University community and to serve as a resource center for the larger public. Established in 1979 as an interdisciplinary research center, the Center supports basic research and training of scholars, and scholarly activities over a broad range of topics. The Center also provides opportunities for students majoring in traditionally defined fields to develop a comprehensive interdisciplinary program in African Studies, and grants scholarships for language training in African languages and overseas research funding for advanced graduate students. The Center supports interdisciplinary research focus groups (RFG's) that address Africa's major concerns. The RFG's are organized around shared intellectual interests and bring faculty and graduate students from departments and professional schools together on a regular basis for discussion of new literature and presentation of work in progress. Current groups include:

  • Popular Culture
  • Rethinking Globalization
  • South Africa in Transition
  • Natural Resources and Political Ecology
  • Democratization and Human Rights
  • African languages and cultures

Center for African Studies

There are 18 publications in this collection, published between 1984 and 2023.
Breslauer Symposium on Natural Resource Issues in Africa (12)

Spaces of change: Tribal authorities in the former KaNgwane homeland, South Africa

An underreported consequence of the democratic transition is its impact upon localized governance systems in mediating development opportunities within the former homelands of South Africa. Colonialism and apartheid utilized traditional authorities to control landscapes and people, and while these systems continue to influence the livelihood opportunities available to rural households, their scope and influence are being renegotiated by the emergence of new governance structures. This paper uses a case study from the former KaNgwane homeland to evaluate the role of the Matsamo Tribal Authority in shaping access to land, wood and agricultural projects in the region. It is argued that the colonial and apartheid empowerment of the tribal authorities continues to have symbolic and material meaning within KaNgwane, which shapes the ways that rural households benefit from conservation and development. In the post-apartheid era, newly created democratic structures are challenging traditional governance systems by reworking household access to environmental resources. The intersection between these contrasting, and historically situated, systems suggests a dynamic renegotiation is occurring that will continue to impact rural households within the former places of apartheid.

Linking local perceptions of elephants and conservation: Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya

This paper examines the development and implementation of a grassroots elephant conservation program based upon the Samburu people's perceptions and knowledge of elephants in the areas surrounding the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves in Northern Kenya. Ethnographic methods were used to understand these perceptions and demonstrated that strong customs and traditions for conserving wildlife, particularly elephants, exist among the Samburu people. It became evident that these customs are changing given various factors influencing Samburu culture and younger generations. The use of economic incentives is a widely accepted method to foster positive attitudes and behavior towards wildlife. The value of using ethnographic methods to reinforce positive indigenous knowledge about wildlife, however, is underestimated. This case study highlights the significance of using ethnographic methods in community conservation program design. The paper demonstrates that in local contexts where cultural perceptions and traditions towards elephants are largely positive, this is a viable approach for community based wildlife management that is complementary to economic incentives programs.

A spatial location-allocation GIS framework for managing water resources in a savanna nature reserve

Associated with the establishment of removal of water sources in savanna ecosystems is the issue of the effects of such management actions on animal movement and habitat selection, longer term implications on population levels, and impacts of such change on habitat degradation and soil erosion. Extant metrics used to describe the spatial distribution of water sources on the landscape often fall short of providing source-specific information, making them hard to apply in small-scale management settings. Using the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) as a case study, we compare a buffer framework, describing distances to water, a nearest neighbour framework, a spatial location-allocation framework (SLAF) created in a geographic information system (GIS). These three frameworks can be combined into one GIS to demonstrate site-specific information on water source distribution, in addition to system-wide descriptions. The visually accessible quality of a GIS allows qualitative input from managers and property owners to achieve quantifiable management goals. The duality of database and visual representation provides a useful tool to assess the role of individual water sources and can easily be updated to reflect changes in their distribution.

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Understanding the Horn of Africa (4)

East African Pastoralists

Over the fifteen years prior to the 1984 publication of this article, East African pastoralists faced food shortages and famine. From the perspective of the mid-1980s, this article analyzes the challenges to solving this problem. Modernization had disrupted already inadequate traditional food systems and continued to threaten pastoralists. "Pastoral development" had been proposed as a means of achieving long-term food security by increasing pastoralists' involvement in national food and economic systems. If pastoral development was to become reality, however, daunting obstacles had to be overcome. Halderman warns that if solutions were not found and implemented there could be heavy costs to the region's pastoralists and governments. Contemporary students of pastoralism can evaluate whether progress was made or not.

The Future of Pastoralism in Turkana District, Kenya

This was a response to the request from Hanna Gooren and a group of other students at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, to provide my view and opinion regarding an “ethical issue” they had been asked to research and to prepare a joint paper.  The research question was: “Should pastoral nomads in Turkana District be supported or has their livelihood become too hopeless?

Pastoralism in the Horn of Africa: Classic and Current Issues ~ Curriculum Unit Guide

This curriculum unit explores classic issues confronted by pastoralists in the Horn of Africa as well as continuity and change to the contemporary moment. Developed for the Understanding the Horn online curriculum project, this guide provides an overview to the material available on the

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Undergraduate Research (2)

Perfective Aspect and Order of Affixation in Pulaar

This paper explores the verbal system and more particularly the perfective aspect of the Pulaar language, which belongs to the Niger-Congo / North-Atlantic language family. In Pulaar, tense, aspect, negation, and voice are all encoded through verbal affixation. I show in this paper that the perfective aspect while informing about the completion of an event also encodes tense information. In the absence of an overt tense marker, I argue for a null tense head that carries a recent past tense feature. Considering the Fixed and Universal Hierarchy of Functional Heads Hypothesis (Cinque 1999) and the Mirror Principle (Baker 1985), I argue for verb movement using evidence from adverb adjunction and from the order of affixation of the perfective -ii, negation -aa and distant past -no morphemes. Moreover, I consider for comparative purposes the imperfective aspect and two varieties of Pulaar (Fuuta and Toore), highlighting differences concerning allomorphy and ordering of the perfective marker -ii. Following Alexiadou et al. (2015), I end with a brief discussion of voice and suggest that Pulaar provides evidence for an expletive voice head -ma that appears in middle/passive voice and anti-causative contexts, which supports the idea that voice alternation is responsible for the causative/anti-causative verbal variation found cross-linguistically.