Japanese Journal of Human Geography Vol.60 No.3 (2008)

Vol.60 No.3 (2008)



Changes in Rural Society in Namibia and in Use of Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), An Indigenous Fruit Tree: Political Ecology of Semi-natural Vegetation
FUJIOKA Yuichiro (1)
The Changes in the Central Shopping Area and District Centers in Sheffield after the Meadowhall Regional Shopping Center Opened
NEDA Katsuhiko (21)


A Survey of Geographical Studies in Japan (42)
Annual Reviews, 2007

News (79)


Changes in Rural Society in Namibia and in Use of Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), An Indigenous Fruit Tree: Political Ecology of Semi-natural Vegetation

FUJIOKA Yuichiro
(Graduate student, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University)

Semi-artificial vegetation areas consisting of doum palms and marula (Sclerocarya birrea) indigenous fruit trees have been formed in rural societies in northern Namibia. The marula fruit contains a lot of sweet juice and is used by Ovambo agro-pastoralists for eating and brewing local liquor. This paper clarifies the changes in use of marula trees related to socio-economic changes in rural villages in Namibia, and examines the modern role of the marula tree. Then it considers the influence of recent changes in marula use on the semi-artificial vegetation. The data were obtained from fieldwork over 23 months (total) in a village in northern Namibia.
Large socio-economic changes have taken place since independence in 1990, not only in urban areas but also in rural areas of Namibia. Before independence, the Republic of South Africa illegally governed Namibia and introduced an apartheid policy. The colonial government established local organization as ‘traditional government’ in the rural areas of northern Namibia, and they managed the usufruct of land and natural resources. Local people couldn’t own those resources and could not inherit the usufruct. After the late 1980s, however, local people on their own constructed fences surrounding land that was allocated to them, and they can inherit the usufruct of land and natural resources. This initiative by the local people was caused by fact that the power of the ‘traditional government’ has been weakened with the construction of a new national administration and other destabilizing factors such as a land shortage. Another socio-economic change is the increasing economic disparity among households, with higher income employees working in urban areas after the repeal of apartheid. These people tend to invest money in livestock, so that the gap in livestock ownership has increased. Ovambo society traditionally involved reciprocal help among neighboring households, called esipa lyothingo in the local language, meaning ‘neck-born’. This conveys the idea that neighbors should help each other and that people should share milk and meat when livestock are slaughtered, which constitutes an important food source. However, livestock owners are mainly high-income households, and only a few wealthy people now make gifts of the products from their livestock, so the reciprocity has become weakened.
Under such circumstances, the marula plays a role in maintaining and creating social relationships within the village through the process of production and consumption of marula liquor. Ovambo people frequently brew local marula liquor, through collective and reciprocal work, from February to April, which is called the ‘season of marula’, in which women from different households work together to squeeze the fruit in preparing the liquor. The reason for doing the work collectively is thought to be a continuation of the pre-independence custom of management and a way of mitigating arising disparities in the number of marula trees per household resulting from fence construction.
In the process of consumption, villagers share with friends and relatives, and often make gifts of it. Some villagers now give marula liquor in return for collective work or in return for livestock products.
Roles of marula use have changed with socio-economic changes in Ovambo society. The collective work for brewing marula liquor become more important as an opportunity for maintaining and creating social relationships because they haven’t had other collective work in recent years. In addition to this, the marula liquor underpins the loose reciprocity of social relationships that have been weakened by the factors such as economic disparities and unequal opportunities to access natural resources in the village. These results show that the role of marula is different among households and this condition has emerged in relation to recent social changes within rural society. Subsequently, this condition influences the dynamics of semi-artificial vegetation. Thus, the perspective of political ecology is more significant for considering the recent change in relationship between people and vegetation.

Key words: political ecology, agroforestry, rural society, indigenous fruit trees, collective tree use, Namibia

The Changes in the Central Shopping Area and District Centers in Sheffield after the Meadowhall Regional Shopping Center Opened

NEDA Katsuhiko
(Nara University of Education)

In England, the 1980s were a period in which the central government adopted a stance favorable to retail developments. Many out-of-center large scale retail developments opened and they have caused or accelerated the decline of existing centers. In Sheffield City, the Meadowhall regional shopping center opened in 1990. It is by far the largest individual scheme in the revitalization of the Lower Don Valley in Sheffield’s old industrial heartland. Some papers claim that Sheffield’s central shopping area declined drastically within a few years after the Meadowhall center opened. But those papers ignored the effect of the Meadowhall center on district shopping centers in Sheffield. This study presents the trend in development of regional shopping centers in England and examines the changes of the central area and district shopping centers in Sheffield after the Meadowhall regional shopping center opened.
In Japan, through the deregulation of the Large Retail Store Law since 1990, many large-scale stores were developed in greenfields or the countryside. By contrast, in England, regional shopping centers focused on urban areas for regeneration of the deprived inner city in the 1980s. Therefore, many proposals for large-scale retail development in greenfields were rejected in the UK.
Sheffield’s Unitary Development Plan, which was approved in 1998, establishes a three-fold classification of centers and presents retail parks and the regional shopping center (Meadowhall shopping center) in its proposals map. Retail parks and the Meadowhall shopping center are not maintained and enhanced by the local planning authority in accordance with the Planning Policy Guidance of the central government. Therefore, the retail development in retail parks is limited to retail warehouses and the large-scale expansion of the Meadowhall shopping center was not allowed. That is why they are likely to result in serious harm to the vitality and viability of the central shopping area and district shopping centers.
Meadowhall shopping center attracts shoppers from a much wider catchment area than did the central shopping area. Though the central shopping area and the Meadowhall shopping center are situated as regional shopping centers in UDP, the central shopping area may be the focus of the inner city. Retail warehouses located at the fringe of the central shopping area and the number of stores selling fashion goods have decreased rapidly in the central shopping area since the Meadowhall center opened. Many multiple retailers moved from the central shopping area to Meadowhall center. Now the Sheffield City Council has a plan for redevelopment to enhance the status of the central shopping area as a regional shopping center.
The district shopping centers provide high levels of accessibility to a broad range of services and facilities for all the community as well as shopping facilities for local residents. Food retail development is promoted within district shopping centers. There are some district shopping centers in which superstores or retail parks have been developed. District shopping centers without large-scale stores are very small scale and have higher vacancy rates.
In Japan, the City Planning Act establishes two types of commercial zones, Commercial Zones and Neighborhood Commercial Zones. But there are some cities that have established some Commercial Zones outside of the central area, and any type of large-scale store can be located in Neighborhood Commercial Zones. And there are many zones in which large-scale stores under 10,000 square meters of floor space can be built outside of Commercial Zones. Therefore, the City Planning Act does not assume the hierarchy of retail areas with the Commercial Zone in the central area at the top. The Large-scale Retail Store Location Act aims to harmonize large-scale retail stores with the local community. This act does not consider the effects of large-scale stores located in non-commercial zones on Commercial Zones.

Key words: central shopping area, urban retail system, regional shopping center, retail planning policy, Sheffield City, England

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