Maps, metaphors, and meanings: Boundary struggles and village forest use on private and state land in malawi

  • Walker P
  • Peters P
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Abstract

Discusses the boundary struggles and competition over resources on private and state land in Malawi. Importance of local political realities in selecting strategies to contest boundaries; Relationship between value of mapping and type of claim; Linear map boundaries; Role of mapping in redefining the meaning of the boundary based on dominant powerful group. Recent studies have examined social and cultural perceptions of spatial relationships, with particular attention to contests over boundaries. Countermapping offers a technique to defend local rights in these contests. However, this approach may inadequately represent certain complex sociospatial ideas. Specifically, although recent studies emphasize contests over the legitimacy or location of boundaries, the case studies from Malawi in this article illustrate equally important nonterritorial struggles over the meanings - the de facto rules and practices - of boundaries. These struggles, embedded in local history and culture, involve efforts to "untie" resource rights from territorial claims. These strategies would be poorly represented or even obscured in mapping efforts focused on redrawing linear boundaries. This suggests a need to critically examine of the use of mapping and map metaphors in social analysis and practice. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Author-supplied keywords

  • Countermapping
  • Critical cartography
  • Forestry
  • Land tenure
  • Political ecology

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Authors

  • Peter A. Walker

  • Pauline E. Peters

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