From the 'Merino Revolution' to the 'Astronomy Revolution': Land Alienation and Identity in Carnarvon, South Africa

From the 'Merino Revolution' to the 'Astronomy Revolution': Land Alienation and Identity in Carnarvon, South Africa

Author: 
Chinigò, Davide
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2019
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2019, pp.749-766
Abstract: 

The establishment of an astronomy reserve around the core site of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope marks the beginning of an epochal shift away from commercial sheep farming in the upper Karoo. In this article, I reflect on the significance of this 'astronomy revolution' by exploring the ways in which land is central to dynamics of identification, shaping social hierarchies and development expectations. The article uses archival and ethnographic sources to explore the case of Carnarvon. It contextualises the current land-use change to astronomy in the social history of the town, addressing the set of events that marked an earlier epochal change: the transition from communal to commercial sheep farming, often called the 'merino revolution'. The history of land alienation accompanying this earlier transition resurfaces in current claims lodged through the post-apartheid land restitution programme, which intersect in complex ways with the current land-use change to astronomy. The article identifies a central tension in the 'astronomy revolution', which undermines claims to redress local historical inequalities while promoting identification with a broader national and global development priority.

Language: 

CITATION: Chinigò, Davide. From the 'Merino Revolution' to the 'Astronomy Revolution': Land Alienation and Identity in Carnarvon, South Africa . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2019. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 45, No. 4, 2019, pp.749-766 - Available at: http://library.au.int/merino-revolution-astronomy-revolution-land-alienation-and-identity-carnarvon-south-africa