Re-wilding or hyperwilderness - plus ca change?

Haywood, Mark (2007) Re-wilding or hyperwilderness - plus ca change? South African Journal of Art History, 22 (1). pp. 195-203. Full text not available from this repository.

Official URL:


Re-wilding is an important way in which certain land managers, nature conservationists, national park authorities and others envision the future state of landscapes and nature reserves under their control. In some instances areas of land are allowed to revert 'naturally' to form some type of 'semi-natural' landscape. In others, specific land management practices, sometimes classed as 'traditional' are reintroduced to establish the preferred state of wildness. I have coined the term hyperwilderness to describe private re-wilding ventures which simulate 'wilderness' in an artificial tourist driven context. In South Africa, particularly in the malaria free zones of the Eastern Cape, there has been a rapid recent increase in the number of private re-wilding projects as white farmers shift from cattle farming to various forms of tourism based on indigenous wildlife. Inevitably this has also led to rising social tensions - Provincial Land Affairs and Agriculture Minister, Gugile Nkwinti has described game farms as "elitist" and said there had been a 're-colonisation of the countryside'. [Groenewald: 2005]. The paper considers the history of re-wilding sites based on former 1820 Settler farms, or 'manors'. Many Settlers migrated to South Africa after losing their traditional commonlands in the British Isles through the Enclosure Acts and the Highland Clearances. In the latter peasants were evicted from their smallholdings in order to create large grouse and deer hunting estates. In South Africa re-wilding, whilst ecologically desirable, can appear socially contentious by attempting to erase the history of colonial occupation, through yet another manifestation of the colonial gaze. The land reverts to indigenous bush, indigenous species are reintroduced, the farmer becomes invisible as the farm disappears, but so too do indigenous people, who are either excluded by game fences and economics, or become semi-invisible servants working in lodges which are often Hollywood inspired versions of colonial fantasy architecture.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: South African Journal of Art History
Publisher: Art Historical Work Group of South Africa
ISSN: 0258-3542
Related URL(s):
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA)
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2010 14:18
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 19:45
Edit Item