Third Nature: Making Space and Time in the Great Limpopo Conservation Area



In southern Africa's “Great Limpopo Transboundary Conservation Area,” potential nature, envisioned as ideal habitats for wildlife, may outweigh actual nature. I refer to this notion of conditional biodiversity as “third nature,” distinguishing it from the equally anthropogenic, but tangible, second nature (“nature” as including human habitation). Conservationists and investors are inventing nature on a new scale that crosses national boundaries in elaborate ventures to develop ecotourism in the Great Limpopo zone. They now imagine a continent-wide field for (white) tourists to be created by fencing out local populations of (black) peasants. Few observers appreciate the structural racism involved in the profound material consequences of these dreams of third nature.