My presentation explores the dimensions of space and place through an examination of Land and how it is handled by Kweneng Land Board (KLB) in Botswana. It is based on an ethnographic study carried out in 2009–2010 that builds on research that I carried out in Kweneng District in the 1980’s that is ongoing. One of twelve land boards in the country that regulate the allocation and transfer of customary land, that accounts for 70% of land in Botswana, KLB plays a key role in land administration and management within its 38,122 km2 jurisdiction. Thus its relation to ‘place’ embodies a grounded, physical, territorial space. Yet, at the same time, KLB finds itself positioned with a complex set of relations that engage with national institutions, such as the Ministry of Lands and Housing within which it is situates, as well as with other local agencies, such as the District Council and Tribal Administration that deals with the administration of customary law more generally. For Molepolole village where KLB is based, is not only the regional centre for district administration, but is also home to Bawkena, where the Chief’s kgotla, Kgosing is located that represents the apex of Kwena socio-political governance of the polity or ‘tribe’. Thus KLB also engages with a more intangible aspect of space, one that derives from the place in which it is situated. This is one that embodies social relationships with intersecting dimensions that also map onto the physical domain that it regulates. In exploring land as a site of action involving social relations embedded in space and time, my paper highlights the spatialization of power that is at work and calls for a reframing of concepts such as ‘local’, ‘national’ and ‘global’ that have shaped debates about land tenure and its development and reform world-wide.
Source: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Link (1 May 2017)