Date of Award:

2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Christopher Conte

Abstract

Gorongosa: a history of an African landscape, 1921-2014, focuses on changes in the Gorongosa ecosystem, in central Mozambique, southeastern Africa. Environmental changes result from natural, non-human causes and from the activities of humans. I describe four socioecological events: African and Portuguese interactions, Gorongosa National Park, the effects of Mozambique’s civil war, and the Park's restoration in the aftermath of the civil war. Prior to European partition of Africa in 1884-85, Mozambique did not exist as clearly a demarcated territory as it is now. Today, the sense of Mozambicanhood bears traces of Portuguese colonial era experience. The demarcation of Mozambique’s boundaries and the reshaping of the colony until 1975 was a painful process that both the Africans and Portuguese colonialists endured; these physical and social separations from the rest of southern Africa represented the first human-induced changes in southern Africa. The endeavors to reshape Mozambique did not end with political boundaries. Painful processes, including the reshaping of Gorongosa National Park in the Gorongosa ecosystem, continued after border demarcations. Countless Mozambican and Portuguese lives were lost in the long trajectory within the colony as the Africans and the Europeans all developed a sense of unity in diversity while reshaping their attitude of and about Mozambique. After independence in 1975, internal transformations and wars continued reshaping Mozambique and Mozambicans, as different nationalists sought to maintain their colonial experience. These dynamics marked the environmental history of the Mozambican and Portuguese peoples and are often reflected in the prevalence of high sympathy, which the two peoples share toward one another. Gorongosa: a history of an African landscape, 1921-2014, critically celebrates these collective achievements.

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