Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 3–17 | Cite as

Temporal Heterogeneity in the Study of African Land Use

Interdisciplinary Collaboration between Anthropology, Human Geography and Remote Sensing
  • Jane I. Guyer
  • Eric F. Lambin
  • Lisa Cliggett
  • Peter Walker
  • Kojo Amanor
  • Thomas Bassett
  • Elizabeth Colson
  • Rod Hay
  • Katherine Homewood
  • Olga Linares
  • Opoku Pabi
  • Pauline Peters
  • Thayer Scudder
  • Matthew Turner
  • John Unruh


This paper introduces a set of four collaborative papers exploring temporal heterogeneity in the analysis of African land use over a decadal time period, from 10 to 50 years, in the second half of the twentieth century. The four cases were chosen amongst the seven teams of anthropologists, human geographers and remote sensing specialists who had carried out long-term research and who met to discuss their findings at a workshop in 2003. All seven teams’ work and the collective discussion—on Casamance (Senegal), Brong Ahafo (Ghana), Southern Niger/Northern Cote d’Ivoire, Oyo State (Nigeria), Maasai Mara (Kenya and Tanzania), Gwembe (Zambia), and Malawi—inform this introduction. We identify several temporal processes in all the cases, each operating on its own temporal frame: population growth and, above all, mobility; livelihood change through crop and occupational change; tenure ambiguity; powerful though “punctuated” interventions by state policy; and climate change. Conceptual and methodological implications are disussed.

Key words

African land use temporal heterogeneity anthropology long term studies remote sensing 



We gratefully acknowledge the support for the two meetings which this collection brings to fruition. A conference on African Farmers and their Environment in Long Term Perspective at the Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands, in 1995, was funded by the National Science Foundation International Programs (9501422) and the Rockefeller Foundation.

A workshop in 2003 at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences was financed by The Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the National Science Foundation, Cultural Anthropology Division (BCS0245289).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane I. Guyer
    • 1
  • Eric F. Lambin
    • 2
  • Lisa Cliggett
    • 3
  • Peter Walker
    • 4
  • Kojo Amanor
    • 5
  • Thomas Bassett
    • 6
  • Elizabeth Colson
    • 7
  • Rod Hay
    • 8
  • Katherine Homewood
    • 9
  • Olga Linares
    • 10
  • Opoku Pabi
    • 11
  • Pauline Peters
    • 12
  • Thayer Scudder
    • 13
  • Matthew Turner
    • 14
  • John Unruh
    • 15
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyCatholic University of LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA
  5. 5.Institute of African StudiesUniversity of GhanaLegonGhana
  6. 6.Department of GeographyUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-ChampagneUSA
  7. 7.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California-BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  8. 8.Department of Earth SciencesCalifornia State UniversityCarsonUSA
  9. 9.Department of AnthropologyUniversity College LondonLondonEngland
  10. 10.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama
  11. 11.Geography and Resource DepartmentUniversity of GhanaLegonGhana
  12. 12.Kennedy School of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  13. 13.Department of AnthropologyCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  14. 14.Department of GeographyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  15. 15.Department of GeographyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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