From Peru to Ichaboe: the dynamics of a shifting guano frontier, 1840-5

The guano frontier originated as a geographic space for a socio-cultural resource central to the identity, lifestyle and worldview of the indigenous Peruvians. Colonisation in combination with advances in understandings of plant nutrition and fertiliser science, however, shifted guano’s meaning from its original roots and turned it into a globally tradable commodity. The geographical frontier, under the influence of post-independence politics and nationalisation, firstly became an economic frontier and, secondly, a political boundary. With discoveries on Ichaboe and other neighbouring islands on the southwest coast of Africa, this frontier shifted and a race for monopoly control ensued. The dynamics of the struggle for monopoly control over the guano frontier on the Namib coast challenges some of our fundamental historiographic tenets of frontiers, their very natures, triggers and movements. This article suggests the extension of a socio-ecological model in which resource demand and depletion, coupled with changes in the extension of knowledge and legal boundaries, all played roles. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]

Title: From Peru to Ichaboe: the dynamics of a shifting guano frontier, 1840-5
Author: Snyders, Hendrik
Year: 2016
Periodical: African Historical Review (ISSN 1753-2531)
Volume: 48
Issue: 2
Pages: 1-23
Language: English
Geographic terms: South Africa
Peru
External link: https://doi.org/10.1080/17532523.2016.1290574
Abstract: The guano frontier originated as a geographic space for a socio-cultural resource central to the identity, lifestyle and worldview of the indigenous Peruvians. Colonisation in combination with advances in understandings of plant nutrition and fertiliser science, however, shifted guano’s meaning from its original roots and turned it into a globally tradable commodity. The geographical frontier, under the influence of post-independence politics and nationalisation, firstly became an economic frontier and, secondly, a political boundary. With discoveries on Ichaboe and other neighbouring islands on the southwest coast of Africa, this frontier shifted and a race for monopoly control ensued. The dynamics of the struggle for monopoly control over the guano frontier on the Namib coast challenges some of our fundamental historiographic tenets of frontiers, their very natures, triggers and movements. This article suggests the extension of a socio-ecological model in which resource demand and depletion, coupled with changes in the extension of knowledge and legal boundaries, all played roles. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]