Namibia Research

On and off since 1992 I have been fortunate to carry out research in Namibia, focusing on socio-ecological relations, colonialism and conservation. Currently I am UK Principal Investigator for Etosha-Kunene Histories, with colleagues at the University of Namibia and the University of Cologne.

Here I share work carried out over the years that focuses on Namibia specifically.

[in progress…]


Sullivan, S. and Ganuses, W.S. 2022 !Nara harvesters of the Northern Namib: a cultural history through three photographed encounters.
Journal of the Namibian Scientific Society 69: 115-139,Special Issue “Gobabeb@60”, edited by Scott Turner.

Sullivan, S. Maps and memory, rights and relationships: articulations of global modernity and local dwelling in delineating land for a communal-area conservancy in north-west Namibia | Cartes et mémoire, droits et relations: articulations de la modernité globale et des dynamiques locales dans la délimitation territoriale des aires de conservation communales au Nord-Ouest de la Namibie (trans. B. Bacle). Conserveries Mémorielles: Revue Transdisciplinaire 25 Special Issue ‘Disrupted Histories, Recovered Pasts | Histoires Perturbées, Passés Retrouvés’, edited by Sullivan, S., Baussant, M., Dodd, L., Otele, O. and Dos Santos, I. [links to preprints]

Koot., S., Hebinck, P. and Sullivan, S. 2022 Conservation research and discursive violence: a response to two rejoinders. Society and Natural Resources.


Sullivan, S. and Ganuses, W.S. 2021 Recomposing the archive? On sound and (hi)story in Damara / ǂNūkhoe pasts, from Basel to west Namibia. Oral History Journal 49(2): 95-108, Special Issue on ‘Power and the archives’.

Hewitson, L. & Sullivan, S. 2021 Producing elephant commodities for ‘conservation hunting’ in Namibian communal-area conservancies. Journal of Political Ecology 28: 1-24.
Media: Cruise, A. 2021 Trophy hunting elephants: New study highlights tensions in commodifying wildlife for community-based conservation in Namibia. Journal of African Elephants 8 April 2021


Lendelvo, S., Mechtilde, P. and Sullivan, S. 2020 A perfect storm? COVID-19 and community-based conservation in Namibia. Namibian Journal of Environment 4(B): 1-15.
Media: Conservation Namibia blog, ‘Communal Conservancies Cry for Help to Survive Coronavirus “Perfect Storm”’, 10 July 2020

Koot, S., Hebinck, P. and Sullivan, S. 2020 Science for Success – A Conflict of Interest? Researcher Position and Reflexivity in Socio-ecological Research for CBNRM in Namibia. Society and Natural Resources. 
Media: summarised in online article – Pinnock, D. 2021 A question of bias: Trophy hunting is a contentious industry and shaping research to get a desired outcome doesn’t help. Daily Maverick 18 October.

+ Response to article rejoinders Koot., S., Hebinck, P. and Sullivan, S. 2022 Conservation research and discursive violence: a response to two rejoinders.’ Society and Natural Resources. 


Sullivan, S. 2019 Towards a metaphysics of the soul and a participatory aesthetics of life: mobilising Foucault, affect and animism for caring practices of existence. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory & Politics 95(3): 5-21.


Sullivan, S. 2017 On ‘natural capital’, ‘fairy-tales’ and ideology. Invited Review Essay, Development and Change 48(2): 397-423. DOI: 10.1111/dech.12293


Sullivan, S. and Low, C. 2014 Shades of the rainbow serpent? A KhoeSān animal between myth and landscape in southern Africa – ethnographic contextualisations of rock art representations. The Arts 3(2): 215-244 (special issue on World Rock Art).


Sullivan, S. 2013 After the green rush? Biodiversity offsets, uranium power and the ‘calculus of casualties’ in greening growth. Human Geography 6(1): 80-101,


Sullivan, S. 2006 The elephant in the room? Problematizing ‘new’ (neoliberal) biodiversity conservation. Forum for Development Studies 33(1): 105-135.


Sullivan, S. 2003 Protest, conflict and litigation: dissent or libel in resistance to a conservancy in north-west Namibia, pp. 69-86 in Berglund, E. and Anderson, D. (eds.) Ethnographies of Conservation: Environmentalism and the Distribution of Privilege. Oxford: Berghahn Press.


Sullivan, S. 2002 How sustainable is the communalising discourse of ‘new’ conservation? The masking of difference, inequality and aspiration in the fledgling ‘conservancies’ of Namibia, pp. 158-187 In Chatty, D. and Colchester, M. (eds.) Conservation and Mobile Indigenous people: Displacement, Forced Settlement and Sustainable Development. Oxford: Berghahn Press.

Sullivan, S. and Rohde, R. 2002 On non-equilibrium in arid and semi-arid grazing systems. Journal of Biogeography 29(12): 1595-1618. [11th most cited paper & authors for Journal of Biogeography in 2002]


Sullivan, S. 2001 Difference, identity and access to official discourses: Haiǁom, ‘Bushmen’, and a recent Namibian ethnography. Anthropos 96: 179-192.

Sullivan, S. 2001 Danza e diversità: copri, movimento ed esperienza nella trance-dance dei Khoisan e nei rave occidentali. (On dance and difference: bodies, movement and experience in Khoesān trance-dancing – perceptions of ‘a raver’). Africa e Mediterraneo Cultura e Societa 37: 15-22.


Sullivan, S. 2000 Gender, ethnographic myths and community-based conservation in a former Namibian ‘homeland’, pp. 142-164 in Hodgson, D. (ed.) Rethinking Pastoralism in Africa: Gender, Culture and the Myth of the Patriarchal Pastoralist. Oxford: James Currey.

Sullivan, S. 2000 Getting the science right, or introducing science in the first place? Local ‘facts’, global discourse – ‘desertification’ in north-west Namibia, pp. 15-44 in Stott, P. and Sullivan, S. (eds.) Political Ecology: Science, Myth and Power. London: Edward Arnold.


Sullivan, S. 1999 Folk and formal, local and national: Damara cultural knowledge and community-based conservation in southern Kunene, Namibia. Cimbebasia 15: 1-28.

Sullivan, S. 1999 The impacts of people and livestock on topographically diverse open wood-and shrub-lands in arid north-west Namibia. Global Ecology and Biogeography (Special Issue on ‘Degradation of Open Woodlands’) 8: 257-277.


Sullivan, S. and Konstant, T.L. 1997 Human impacts on woody vegetation, and multivariate analysis: a case study based on data from Khowarib settlement, Kunene Region. Dinteria 25: 87-120.


Sullivan, S. 1996 The ‘Communalization’ of Former Commercial Farmland: Perspectives From Damaraland and Implications for Land Reform. Windhoek: Social Sciences Division of the Multidisciplinary Research Centre, University of Namibia, Research Report 25.

Sullivan, S. 1996 Towards a non-equilibrium ecology: perspectives from an arid land. Journal of Biogeography 23: 1-5.


Sullivan, S., Konstant, T.L. and Cunningham, A.B. 1995 The impact of utilization of palm products on the population structure of the vegetable ivory palm (Hyphaene petersiana, Arecaceae) in north-central Namibia. Economic Botany 49(4): 357-370.

Konstant, T.L., Sullivan, S. and Cunningham, A.B. 1995 The effects of utilization by people and livestock on Hyphaene petersiana (Arecaceae) basketry resources in the palm savanna of north-central Namibia. Economic Botany 49(4): 345-356.