Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods

This paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in...

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Main Author: Peter Kojo Boateng
Format: Article
Language:English
Published: MDPI AG 2017-03-01
Series:Social Sciences
Subjects:
Online Access:http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/1/35
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spelling doaj-fffbc5adf8d34716ba0823f148ac16c22020-11-25T00:13:06ZengMDPI AGSocial Sciences2076-07602017-03-01613510.3390/socsci6010035socsci6010035Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial PeriodsPeter Kojo Boateng0Centre for Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Melbourne 3800, AustraliaThis paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in the rural savannahs of northeast Ghana. Many of those degradation narratives take their root in the past during the colonial era, but the conceptual underpinnings of those narratives have remained essentially a-historical, a-political, and a-cultural. This paper shows that the organisation of space and land uses in pre-colonial communities in northeast Ghana was governed by certain traditional knowledge systems which were ignored by the colonial authorities. While narratives about landscape degradation by natives were propagated by the colonial government to justify a need to preserve the environment, their attempts to control land management matters were essentially for political and economic reasons. The study concludes that current policy frameworks on desertification and land management need to move beyond inherent historical biases. Rather, attention ought to be given to critical historical reflections on the dynamic processes by which variations in socio-economic relations of resource access/use, farming practices, land tenure arrangements, and political agendas interact with changes in the biophysical environment to produce different land cover trajectories over time.http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/1/35land degradationdesertificationNortheast Ghanaland usenarrativespolitics
collection DOAJ
language English
format Article
sources DOAJ
author Peter Kojo Boateng
spellingShingle Peter Kojo Boateng
Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
Social Sciences
land degradation
desertification
Northeast Ghana
land use
narratives
politics
author_facet Peter Kojo Boateng
author_sort Peter Kojo Boateng
title Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
title_short Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
title_full Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
title_fullStr Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
title_full_unstemmed Land Access, Agricultural Land Use Changes and Narratives about Land Degradation in the Savannahs of Northeast Ghana during the Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods
title_sort land access, agricultural land use changes and narratives about land degradation in the savannahs of northeast ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods
publisher MDPI AG
series Social Sciences
issn 2076-0760
publishDate 2017-03-01
description This paper discusses the evolution of socio-cultural and political relations that defined access to, use, and management of land resources in northeast Ghana during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. The aim is to historicise current meta-narratives about degradation of the natural landscape in the rural savannahs of northeast Ghana. Many of those degradation narratives take their root in the past during the colonial era, but the conceptual underpinnings of those narratives have remained essentially a-historical, a-political, and a-cultural. This paper shows that the organisation of space and land uses in pre-colonial communities in northeast Ghana was governed by certain traditional knowledge systems which were ignored by the colonial authorities. While narratives about landscape degradation by natives were propagated by the colonial government to justify a need to preserve the environment, their attempts to control land management matters were essentially for political and economic reasons. The study concludes that current policy frameworks on desertification and land management need to move beyond inherent historical biases. Rather, attention ought to be given to critical historical reflections on the dynamic processes by which variations in socio-economic relations of resource access/use, farming practices, land tenure arrangements, and political agendas interact with changes in the biophysical environment to produce different land cover trajectories over time.
topic land degradation
desertification
Northeast Ghana
land use
narratives
politics
url http://www.mdpi.com/2076-0760/6/1/35
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