Namibia's Red Line: The History of a Veterinary and Settlement Border (Hardcover)
Based on archival sources and oral history, this book reconstructs a border-building process in Namibia that spanned more than sixty years. The process commenced with the establishment of a temporary veterinary defence line against rinderpest by the German colonial authorities in the late nineteenth century and ended with the construction of a continuous two-metre-high fence by the South African colonial government sixty years later. This 1250-kilometre fence divides northern from central Namibia even today. The book combines a macro and a micro-perspective and differentiates between cartographic and physical reality. The analysis explores both the colonial state's agency with regard to veterinary and settlement policies and the strategies of Africans and Europeans living close to the border. The analysis also includes the varying perceptions of individuals and populations who lived further north and south of the border and describes their experiences crossing the border as migrant workers, African traders, European settlers and colonial officials. The Red Line's history is understood as a gradual process of segregating livestock and people, and of constructing dichotomies of modern and traditional, healthy and sick, European and African.
About the Author
Giorgio Miescher is a historian of Namibia and Southern Africa and has published on various aspects in the field. He is currently a Marie Curie Fellow of the University of Basel, Switzerland, and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
'A remarkable demonstration of how focusing on topic largely ignored in African historiography, a line drawn in the sand, can produce alternative perspectives on the socio-cultural history of Namibia. This finely nuanced study opens up important ways of re-examining old ways of writing history and generates important new insights into the dynamics of colonial control.' -- Robert Gordon, professor, University of Vermont and University of the Free State
'Seated in an exceptional knowledge of Namibia's historical record, this work has moved the history of an internal border towards the center of the history of colonialism and empire in southern Africa. Miescher makes a convincing case that the internal border, through its development towards a formally realized settlement and veterinary boundary, may be far more determinative of the terms of governmentality, and in turn of the fate of the nation, than the external borders that were the privileged cartographic marks of empire. We learn how the internal border was experienced, how it was lived, and the work raises critical questions regarding the continuing effects of the structures of spatial colonialism on the conditions of governance and economy in the post-colony.' -- David William Cohen, professor emeritus of Anthropology and History, The University of Michigan
'Real and imagined, the Red Line slices through Namibia's history. Miescher provides a compelling and vivid account of an historic journey along the line as it is constantly re-mapped and re-inscribed upon the landscape, defining Namibia's space and time for almost a century and still continues to cast its shadowlike presence.' -- Leslie Witz, History Department, University of the Western Cape
'Giorgio Miescher's innovative study uses the Red Line as a tangential and highly productive route into Namibian history. He concludes with a more personal quest for the Red Line, exploring how this border was experienced, and how it is remembered. It is a revealing study, welding social, environmental, and veterinary themes and showing again the value of unusual vantage points in the writing of history.' -- William Beinart, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, University of Oxford