Political Ecologies of Dynamic Wetlands: Hydrosocial Waterscapes in the Okavango Delta

Brian King, Jamie E. Shinn, Kayla Yurco, Kenneth R. Young, Kelley A. Crews Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Research within geography and related disciplines has directed much attention to the coupled interactions between social and ecological systems. These studies have usefully analyzed the multifaceted, temporal, and scalar dimensions of human–environment interactions and how future environmental change will continue to challenge human resource needs. Political ecology research has also made contributions in this regard, particularly by emphasizing livelihood systems, impacts of conservation and development, agricultural production, and environmental governance. Yet although political ecology research has contributed to socioecological systems scholarship, much of this work has been situated within dryland environments or marine ecosystems that have particular biophysical features. Comparatively, wetland environments that experience dynamic flooding regimes warrant further attention from political ecology. This article engages with the findings from an ongoing research project that is evaluating the impacts of flooding variability for rural livelihoods in the Okavango Delta of Botswana. We outline some of the main findings from this work by concentrating on two themes central to political ecology: access and governance. We conclude by arguing that the Okavango Delta should be understood as a hydrosocial waterscape that encompasses a variety of socioecological relationships within the region, as well as the power relations operating at a variety of scales that both produce and govern them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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