Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 81–95 | Cite as

Mutual Gains and Distributive Ideologies in South Africa: Theorizing Negotiations between Communities and Protected Areas

  • Derick A. FayEmail author


With the rise of joint management of protected areas, community representatives are increasingly involved in formal negotiations with state officials, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and other actors. Policy recommendations have commonly idealized “win-win” scenarios. Theoretical work on negotiation from psychology and management studies, however, points to identifiable circumstances under which the goal of a mutually beneficial “win-win” situation may limit the strategies, and ultimately the benefits, available to communities. Instead, an antagonistic, “distributive” approach to negotiations may be more compatible with the pressures on and strategies available to community representatives. The tensions between a “mutual gains” and “distributive” approach to negotiations are evident in two land claims on protected areas in South Africa: the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserves, and the Pafuri Triangle, a portion of Kruger National Park. In each, NGOs that operated with a “mutual gains” strategy, espousing a “win-win” scenario, came to be perceived as collaborating with conservation agencies. Meanwhile, as negotiation theory would suggest, community representatives inclined towards a “distributive” strategy and allied with a second set of explicitly advocatory NGOs. Expecting that communities should embrace a “win-win” scenario from the outset is unrealistic and likely to reduce communities’ power in negotiations.

Key words

Negotiation protected areas conservation nongovernmental organizations land claims joint management comanagement 



This research has been made possible by fieldwork grants from the Research Institute for the Study of Man (New York, USA) in 1998 and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (New York, USA; Grant #6329) in 1999. Thanks are especially due to Kuzile Juza and Waphi Siyaleko of Hobeni, the other members of the Dwesa-Cwebe Land Trust, and the residents of the Dwesa-Cwebe communities. The Rhodes University Institute of Social and Economic Research hosted me as a Visiting Scholar, and collaboration with Robin Palmer and Herman Timmermans of Rhodes University has informed my thinking about Dwesa-Cwebe. André Terblanche and Mcebisi Kraai of the Village Planner provided me with information, many valuable documents, and hospitality. Duncan Peltason kindly provided me with several thousand pages of largely unpublished documents delivered to interested parties by the Land Claims Commission. Leslie Bank of the University of Fort Hare was instrumental in arranging a follow-up visit to South Africa in August 2003. Shula Marks provided insightful comments as a discussant of an early version of the paper at the Northeast Workshops on Southern Africa in September 2003. A S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California has provided me time to rewrite the paper; comments from Arielle Levine were particularly helpful. An ad hoc panel at the Anthropology and Environment section meeting in November 2004 was another source of valuable feedback. Finally, I presented the paper at the panel entitled “The Political Ecology of Protected Areas and Local Communities in Global Perspective,” organized by James Igoe at the Society for Applied Anthropology’s 2005 Annual Meeting, and received valuable comments and encouragement from the panelists and audience there.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.S.V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management, Division of Society and EnvironmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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