Integral to the geographic discipline are cross-cultural analyses, many of which use languages outside of the researcher’s own. There are few analyses, however, that address issues of translation that are inherently geographic; namely, that language is understood as a manifestation of place and culture. This article argues that the results of environmental interviews must be interpreted through a lens that evaluates how the translation of a word, or even a concept, is understood differentially based on one’s sense of place. Interviews were conducted in three of the Etsha villages situated in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, comparing perceptions of changes in both the local area and the flooding regime. Findings show qualitatively and quantitatively how residents perceive environmental change in light of their residential histories and their production of place. These results highlight that environmental change in an area is perceived in the context of previous residences, including the length of time spent in residence and the environmental characterization of that place. The process of interviewing regarding such change, especially when translation is necessary, should therefore proceed by incorporating inquiries about previous residences and the environments of those areas to correctly contextualize environmental change in a particular area.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Earth-Surface Processes