I am a historian (in-training) of 20th Century Namibia. My training is largely in economic and labour history, with a strong focus on human-environment relations.
I’m currently researching the history of Southern Namibia (today’s Hardap & ǁKaras Regions) in the 20th Century under South African colonialism and apartheid. My work explores the development of the commercial sheep industry in the region, noting particularly the ways white farmers addressed questions of labour insecurity and questions of environmental feasibility. In the arid southern regions of Namibia, genocide and Nama withdrawal from waged labour relations complicated issues of labour hire, and farmers were constantly facing shortages. Furthermore, farmers depended upon the state to assist in making their farms for ecologically sustainable. This included the drilling of boreholes, building of windmills, and crucially, the erection of vermin-proof fencing. My study shows that jackal-proofing serves as a point of confluence between questions of environmental feasibility (jackals were a major problem in these districts, and strategies to avoid predation had wide ranging effects), and questions of labour security (jackal-proofing drastically reduced the need for wage labourers to serve as shepherds). My study also engages with the history of dogs, Karakul sheep, and game farming. I also explore the history of knowledge transfer about vermin eradication strategies, noting the role of members of the United States Fish & Wildlife Services and their efforts to spread the M44 “Coyote Getter” technology into South Africa & Namibia (Afrikaans: gifskieter). A draft paper, recently presented at the Northeastern Workshop on Southern Africa (not for citation), is available here.
I have previously conducted oral history research on the international dimensions of the Namibian anti-apartheid struggle, resulting in a documentary film produced for Namibian television, titled From Windhoek to Washington: An Oral History of the Struggle for Namibian Independence. The film can be viewed [here]. Some of the interviews with Namibian, American, and Finnish leaders were integrated into a seminar paper for Michigan State University, available [here].
I also manage and curate the Namibia Digital Repository, an online digitisation project for Namibia-related publications, films, photographs, and other materials. Those wishing to visit the site or contribute should contact me via this [link]. For more on the purpose of the repository and the controversial politics of academic publishing, check out my writings with MSU’s Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative at this [link].
I am the editor and a contributor for a column in The Namibian newspaper, titled “Know the History” and published once every third week. The column seeks to bring academic knowledge back to Namibians in accessible, yet informed prose. Both domestic and international historians and social scientists have contributed articles on lesser-known, but crucial aspects of Namibian history and culture. You can read more about it here, and those interested in contributing an article can reach out to me via email.
My final research interest, which informs most of the projects above is Marxian theory. A long-term project of mine is exploring applications of Marxian theories of “Primitive” (Ursprüngliche) Accumulation in African and African diasporic contexts.