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In Namibia, historical research, place-linked oral histories and cultural landscape mapping, conducted by Bath Spa geographers in collaboration with local participants and partner organisations, significantly informed high-level recommendations in the Namibian Parliament to enact ancestral land rights claim and restitution legislation.



Cultural and historical variety in understanding of land and the natural world affect governance choices for land distribution and environmental policy. In west Namibia a large range of past settlement localities and livelihood practices were hitherto unrepresented and arguably un(der)valued in policy terms.



Oral history research and cultural landscapes mapping led by elderly Indigenous individuals and families in west Namibia revealed a large range of past settlement localities and livelihood practices.

Ethnographic research and analysis of environmental policy texts in Namibia and beyond, clarified assumptions underpinning new market-based environmental conservation policies.

With local Namibian collaborator members of the research team provided expert testimony to a national review of indigeneity and marginalisation for the Namibian government’s Ancestral Land Commission.



The research informed high-level recommendations for Parliament to enact an ‘ancestral land rights claim and restitution legislation’.

The research also influenced and enriched understanding, awareness and wellbeing, as confirmed by local and national cultural and political leaders and visible in multiple public and policy contexts informing environmental governance, including public dialogue commissioned by the UK government on the National Ecosystem Assessment.


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Institution: Bath Spa Univeristy 

Researchers: Professor Sian Sullivan, Dr Mike Hannis, Dr Chris Low


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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Enhanced visibility of marginalised perspectives and non-pecuniary values regarding land. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>