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State paternalism and institutional degradation at Treesleeper Eco-camp: Community-based tourism and the loss of sovereignty among Bushmen in Namibia

Stasja Koot, Verina Jane Ingram and Mariska Bijsterbosch

Development Southern Africa, 2020, vol. 37, issue 3, 432-445

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.

Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2019.1674636

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