Being a Hunter-Gatherer in Namibia – Blurring the Lines
Over the course of his PhD fieldwork, E3 project member Charlie Goodwin has been investigating two communities in the North-Central area of Namibia, both areas of settlement for !Xun and =Akhwe Hai||om people. Hunter-gatherers in Namibia are experiencing a period of rapid transition, many engaged in wagework and farming as well as practising traditionally hunter-gatherer forms of subsistence.
The central objective of fieldwork, conducted over the course of twelve months, was to investigate the prevalence of folk knowledge in daily life. Through interviews, participant observation and the gathering of statistical data on subsistence, it was possible to examine and deconstruct the distinction between notions of “wild” and “domestic” organisms, practices and objects. Participant observation in particular allowed observance of hunting and gathering in situ, including the teaching of tracking skills, plant identification and animal butchery.
In the wider sphere of the project, this allows for examination of the process of transition between different subsistence practices, the role of hunting and gathering in a mixed economy, and the complex relationships had with exogenous groups.
Two hunters track hares beside the plot of a neighbouring farmer.
Photo: Charlie Goodwin, Ohangwena, 2015