Human Ecology pp 225-236 | Cite as

Adaptive Responses to Environmental and Sociopolitical Change in Southern Zambia

  • Lisa Cliggett
  • Elizabeth Colson
  • Rod Hay
  • Thayer Scudder
  • Jon Unruh


The Gwembe Tonga live in Zambia’s Southern Province, a region of climatic extremes including severe multiyear droughts over the past century, coupled with periods of flooding and pest infestation. This, together with political fluctuations over the last 50 years, has significantly influenced their livelihood choices and ecological impacts, and they have learned to anticipate difficulties beyond local control. The building of the Kariba Dam on the Middle Zambezi River in the late 1950s, initiated by the colonial government in conjunction with the World Bank, resulted in the forced and very unwelcome relocation of the Gwembe Tonga. Almost 50 years after this forced resettlement, which virtually overnight undermined the local livelihood system and resource base, and drastically altered their social world, we find the Gwembe Tonga voluntarily colonizing “frontier” regions in different ecosystems on the plateau above their original Valley home. It is thus possible to examine a long trajectory of adaptation to new ecosystems and look for patterns over time.


Satellite Imagery Livelihood Diversification Migration Destination Primary Migration Forced Resettlement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Clark, Sam, et al. 1995 Ten Thousand Thonga: A longitudinal anthropological study from Southern Zambia 1956-1991. Population Studies 49: 91-109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cliggett, Lisa. 2000 Social Components of Migration: experiences from Southern Province, Zambia. Human Organization 59(1): 125-135.Google Scholar
  3. Cliggett, Lisa. 2001a Carrying Capacity’s New Guise: Folk Models for Public Debate and Longitudinal Study of Environmental Change. Africa Today 48(1): 3-20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cliggett, Lisa. 2001b Survival strategies of the elderly in Gwembe Valley, Zambia: Gender, residence and kin networks. Journal of Cross Cultural Gerontology 16(4): 309-332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cliggett, Lisa. 2002 Mulitgenerations and Multidisciplines: Inheriting Fifty Years of Gwembe Tonga Research. In Chronicling Cultures: Long-term Field Research in Anthropology. R. Van Kemper and A.P. Royce, eds. pp. 239-251. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cliggett, Lisa. 2003a Gift-remitting and Alliance Building in Zambian Modernity: Old Answers to Modern Problems. American Anthropologist. 105(3): 543-552.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cliggett, Lisa. 2003b Male wealth and claims to motherhood: gendered resource access and intergenerational relations in the Gwembe Valley, Zambia. In Gender at Work in Economic Life. G. Clark, ed. pp. 207-223. Society for Economic Anthropology Monographs, Vol. 20. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press.Google Scholar
  8. Cliggett, Lisa. 2005 Grains from Grass: aging, gender and famine in rural Africa. Ithaca: University of Cornell Press.Google Scholar
  9. Colson, Elizabeth. 1960 Social Organization of the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Colson, Elizabeth. 1962 Trade and Wealth Among the Tonga. In Markets in Africa. P. Bohanon and G. Dalton, eds. pp. 601-616. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Colson, Elizabeth. 1963 Land Rights and Land Use among Valley Tonga of the Rhodesian Federation: The Background to the Kariba resettlement programme. In African Agrarian Systems. D. Biebuyck, ed. pp. 137-154. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Colson, Elizabeth. 1964a Land Law and Land Holdings among the Valley Tonga of Zambia. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 22: 1-8.Google Scholar
  13. Colson, Elizabeth. 1964b Social Change and the Gwembe Tonga. Human Problems in British Central Africa/The Rhodes Livingstone Journal 35: 1-13.Google Scholar
  14. Colson, Elizabeth. 1966 The Alien Diviner and Local Politics among the Tonga of Zambia. In Political Anthropology. M. Swartz, V. Turner, and A. Tuden, eds. pp. 221-228. Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  15. Colson, Elizabeth. 1967a Competence and Incompetence in the Context of Independence, and comments. Current Anthropology 8: 92-111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Colson, Elizabeth 1967b The Intensive Study of Small Scale Communities. In The Craft of Social Anthropology. A. Epstein, ed. pp. 3-15. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  17. Colson, Elizabeth. 1969 Spirit Possession among the Tonga of Zambia. In Spirit Mediumship and Society in Africa. J. Beattie and J. Middleton, eds. pp. 69 -103. New York: African Publishing Corportation.Google Scholar
  18. Colson, Elizabeth 1970a The Assimilation of Aliens among the Zambian Tonga. In From Tribe to Nation in Africa. R. Cohen and J. Middleton, eds. pp. 33-54. San Francisco: Chandler.Google Scholar
  19. Colson, Elizabeth. 1970b Converts and Tradition: The impact of Christianity on Valley Tonga religion. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 26(2): 143-156.Google Scholar
  20. Colson, Elizabeth. 1971a Heroism, Martyrdom and Courage. In The Translation of Culture. T. Beidelman, ed. pp. 19-35. London: Tavistock.Google Scholar
  21. Colson, Elizabeth 1971b Social Consequences of Resettlement. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Colson, Elizabeth. 1976 From Chief’s Court to Local Court: the evolution of local courts in Southern Zambia. Political Anthropology 1: 15-29.Google Scholar
  23. Colson, Elizabeth. 1979 In Good Years and Bad: food strategies in self reliant societies. Journal of Anthropological Research 35(1): 18-29.Google Scholar
  24. Colson, Elizabeth. 1980 The Resilience of Matrilineality: Gwembe and Plateau Tonga Adaptations. In The Versatility of Kinship. L. Cordell and S. Beckerman, eds. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  25. Colson, Elizabeth. 1995a The Contentiousness of Disputes. In Understanding Disputes. P. Caplan, ed. pp. 65-82. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  26. Colson, Elizabeth. 1995b War and Domestic Violence. Cultural Survival 19(1): 35-38.Google Scholar
  27. Colson, Elizabeth. 1999 Gendering those uprooted by development. In Engendering Forced Migration: Theory and Practice. N. Indra, ed. pp. 23-39. New York/Oxford: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  28. Colson, Elizabeth. 2000 The Father as Witch. Africa 70(3): 333-358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Colson, Elizabeth, and Thayer, Scudder. 1975 New Economic Relationships Between the Gwembe Valley and the Line of Rail. In Town and Country in Central and Eastern Africa. D. Parkin, ed. pp. 190-210. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Colson, Elizabeth, and Thayer, Scudder. 1981 Old Age in Gwembe District, Zambia. In Other Ways of Growing Old. P. Amoss and S. Harrell, eds. pp. 125-153. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Colson, Elizabeth, and Thayer, Scudder. 1988 For Prayer and Profit: the ritual, economic, and Social importance of beer in Gwembe District, Zambia 1950-1982. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Gillett, Rhonda. 1997 Dental Emergence among urban Zambian school children: an assessment of the accuracy of three methods in assigning ages. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 102: 447- 454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gillett, Rhonda. 1998 Permanent tooth emergence among Zambian school children: a standard for the assignment of ages. American Journal of Human Biology 10: 45-51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gillett, Rhonda M. 1995 Growth and Physical Status: Biocultural Measures of Long-Term Underdevelopment Among the Gwembe Tonga of Zambia. Ph.D Dissertation, Indiana University.Google Scholar
  35. Luig, Ulrich. 1997 Conversion as a Social Process: A history of missionary Christianity among the Valley Tonga, Zambia. Rutgers; Hamburg: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  36. Luig, Ute. 1999 Constructing Local Worlds: Spirit Possession in the Gwembe Valley, Zambia. In Spirit Possession: Modernity and Power in Africa. H. Behrend and U. Luig, eds. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  37. Malasha, Isaac. 2003 Fisheries Co-Management: A Comparative Analysis of the Zambian and Zimbabwean Inshore Fisheries of Lake Kariba. PhD Dissertation, University of Zimbabwe.Google Scholar
  38. Petit, Carine, Thayer, Scudder, and Eric, Lambin. 2001 Quantifying processes of land-cover change by remote sensing:: resettlement and rapid land-cover changes in south-eastern Zambia. International Journal of Remote Sensing 22(17): 3435-3456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Price, Neil Thomas Neil 1999 Continuity and Change in the Gwembe Tonga Family and Their Relevance to Demography’s Nucleation Thesis. Africa 69(4): 510-535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Scudder, Thayer 1960 Fishermen of the Zambezi: An appraisal of fishing practice and potential of the Valley Tonga. The Rhodes Livingston Journal/Human Problems in British Central Africa 27: 41- 49.Google Scholar
  41. Scudder, Thayer. 1962 The Ecology of the Gwembe Tonga. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Scudder, Thayer. 1966 Man-made Lakes and Population Resettlement in Africa. In Man-made Lakes. R. Lowe-McConnell, ed. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  43. Scudder, Thayer. 1971 Gathering among African woodland savannah cultivators: A case study - the Gwembe Tonga. Lusaka: Institute for African Studies, UNZA.Google Scholar
  44. Scudder, Thayer. 1972 Ecology and development: the Kariba Lake basin. In The Careless Technology: Ecology and International Development. M.T. Farvar and J. Milton, eds. New York: Natural History Press.Google Scholar
  45. Scudder, Thayer. 1976 Social impacts of river basin development on local populations. United Nations’ Interregional Seminar on River Basin and Inter Basin Development, Budapest, 1976, pp. 45-52. Institute for Hydraulic Documentation and Education.Google Scholar
  46. Scudder, Thayer. 1980 River-basin development and local initiative in African savanna environments. In Human Ecology in Savanna Environments. D.R. Harris, ed. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  47. Scudder, Thayer. 1983 Economic Downturn and Community Unraveling. Culture and Agriculture 18: 16-19.Google Scholar
  48. Scudder, Thayer. 1984 Economic Downturn and Community Unraveling, revisited. Culture and Agriculture 23: 6 -10.Google Scholar
  49. Scudder, Thayer. 1985 A History of Development in the Zambian Portion of the Middle Zambezi Valley and Lake Kariba Basin. Binghamton, NY: Institute for Development Anthropology.Google Scholar
  50. Scudder, Thayer. 1993 Development Induced Relocation and Refugee Studies: 37 years of change and continuity among Zambia’s Gwembe Tonga. Journal of Refugee Studies 6(2): 123-152.Google Scholar
  51. Scudder, Thayer, and Elizabeth, Colson. 1981 Secondary Education and the Formation of an Elite: the impact of education on Gwembe District, Zambia. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  52. Scudder, Thayer, and Elizabeth, Colson. 1982 From Welfare to Development: a conceptual framework for the analysis of dislocated people. In Involuntary migration and resettlement: the problems and responses of dislocated people. A. Hansen and A. Oliver-Smith, eds. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  53. Scudder, Thayer, and Elizabeth, Colson. 1997 Gwembe Tonga farmers and their environment: a century of change and continuity. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  54. Scudder, Thayer, and Elizabeth, Colson. 2002 Long-term Research in Gwembe Valley, Zambia. In Chronicling Cultures: Long-term Field Research in Anthropology. R. Van Kemper and A.P. Royce, eds. pp. 179-238. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.Google Scholar
  55. Scudder, Thayer, and Jonathan, Habarad. 1991 Local Responses to Involuntary Relocation and Development in the Zambian Portion of the Middle Zambezi Valley. In Migrants in Agricultural Development. J.A. Mollett, ed. pp. 178-205. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  56. Siamwiza, Bennett, Siamwiinde. 1993 Hunger in the Gwembe Valley: A case study of Mweemba Chieftaincy, 1905-1987. MA Thesis, University of Zambia.Google Scholar
  57. Unruh, Jon, Lisa Cliggett, and Rod, Haynd. Migration, Land Tenure, and Deforestation: Land Rights Reception and ‘Clearing to Claim’ in Southern Zambia. Natural Resources Forum under review Oct 2004.Google Scholar
  58. Wilk, Richard. 1991 Household Ecology: Economic Change and Domestic Life among the Kekchi Maya in Belize. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Cliggett
    • 1
  • Elizabeth Colson
    • 1
  • Rod Hay
    • 1
  • Thayer Scudder
    • 1
  • Jon Unruh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations