Book Launches

Contested Karoo: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Change and Continuity in South Africa’s Drylands

On Thursday, 16 May 2024, UCT Press celebrated its first book launch since its relaunch as an African open access publisher last year. The event, held at UCT Libraries, marked the debut of Contested Karoo: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Change and Continuity in South Africa’s Drylands. The book, edited by Professors Cherryl Walker and Timm Hoffman, was the centrepiece of a vibrant discussion with Professor Emma Archer, a geographer from the University of Pretoria.
This hybrid event featured both in-person and virtual attendees, allowing many of the chapter authors to participate in the lively discourse. The session was facilitated by Professor Fiona Ross, Chair of the UCT Press Board, who guided the conversation through the book’s key themes and findings.
Contested Karoo explores significant land-use changes in South Africa’s semi-arid Karoo region and their implications for social justice and the environment. This interdisciplinary collection examines the region’s transformation into a new ‘resource frontier,’ driven by ongoing mining, major investments in astronomy (notably the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope), renewable and non-renewable energy sources, biodiversity conservation, and commercial game farming. These developments are reshaping land use and authority in the Karoo, a region historically marked by marginalization.
The book highlights the paradoxical nature of these changes: while they promise significant benefits, they also risk perpetuating historical patterns of dispossession and extractivism. The collection places the Karoo at the center of critical national and global debates on climate change, knowledge production politics, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable development.
Structured around case studies and historical overviews, Contested Karoo challenges the perception of the region as a peripheral wasteland. It raises essential conceptual and policy questions that resonate far beyond the Karoo itself, underscoring the importance of interdisciplinary research in addressing contemporary challenges.
All those interested in land use, social justice, and environmental sustainability are encouraged to explore this significant work. Contested Karoo is now available for viewing and download through UCT Press at this link.
This book not only enhances our understanding of the Karoo’s evolving landscape but also aims to inform effective responses to the pressing challenges of our time. Don't miss this opportunity to delve into a work that offers profound insights into one of South Africa’s most dynamic regions.
A recording of the event will be available soon!