Tracking Landscapes: From the Kalahari Desert to Norway

This talk by environmental anthropologist Pierre du Plessis explores the skilled practice of tracking as a method for noticing and theorizing landscape change. Beginning with an overview of my work in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, he shows how tracking involves an attunement to broader landscape relations in ways that exceed the exclusive relationship to animals usually associated with tracking. 

Image may contain: Sky, Natural landscape, Body of water, Agriculture, Horizon.

Photo: Pierre du Plessis.

This talk explores the skilled practice of tracking as a method for noticing and theorizing landscape change. Beginning with an overview of my work with San” Master Trackers” in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, I will show how tracking involves an attunement to broader landscape relations in ways that exceed the exclusive relationship to animals usually associated with tracking. 
Du Plessis will then introduce his new project at OSEH that builds on lessons from my previous research to “track” the movement of knowledge, value, and species in the emergence of a noncontiguous zone of beef production/consumption that connects across the Global North and Global South in sometimes unexpected ways. This research takes a two-pronged approach to explore how trade agreements that bring large quantities of Botswana beef to Norway impact multispecies communities in both countries. Critically, this project asks: How do cattle from Botswana’s Kalahari Desert play a role in shaping Norwegian agricultural and industrial landscapes? Conversely, how do Norwegian tastes for fine cut beef impact Kalahari landscapes?

About the presenter

Pierre du Plessis is an environmental anthropologist who studies the skilled practices of tracking and gathering as modes of noticing Kalahari Desert landscapes. His research seeks to describe more-than-human landscapes and contemporary transformation to these landscapes due to the growth of cattle production and extractivist industries. He recently completed the Independent Research Fund Denmark’s International Postdoctoral Research fellowship, for which he was cohosted by Environmental Humanities South, University of Cape Town and the Centre for Environmental Humanities, Aarhus University. Pierre is currently a researcher at the Oslo School of Environmental Humanities, University of Oslo.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: OSEH, HF, Environmental Humanities
Published Aug. 24, 2021 4:13 PM - Last modified Aug. 27, 2021 12:50 PM