Date of Award

Spring 1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Geography

First Advisor

John O’Loughlin

Second Advisor

Joe Bryan

Third Advisor

Mara Goldman

Abstract

In May 2011, Namibia's Minister of Mines and Energy issued a controversial new policy requiring that all future mineral extraction licenses be issued only to state-owned companies. The public debate over this policy reflects rising concerns in southern Africa over who should benefit from globally-significant resources. The goal of this thesis is to create space for the consideration of Namibian perspectives on this topic through the approach of critical geopolitics. Using a mixed methods approach, this thesis analyzes Namibians' opinions on foreign involvement, particularly involvement in natural resource extraction, from three sources: China, South Africa, and the United States. First, through textual analysis of media sources, including editorials, letters to the editor, and SMSes, I analyze the divergent portrayals of specific foreign involvement actors and foreign involvement in Namibia more broadly in the Namibian media. Second, through an analysis of Afrobarometer survey data, I identify the socioeconomic, demographic, and political factors that best predict Namibians' perceptions of Chinese, South African, and American involvement. The findings of these two approaches provide details on two key aspects of foreign investment in Namibia: first, the ways in which the oft-cited discursive battle of "resource-grabbing" versus "investment opportunity" obscures the diversity of ways in which foreign investment is framed by Namibians, and second, the critical geopolitics, based on public opinion, that have singled out China in discussions of foreign investment in Africa, even in places like Namibia where it is far from the largest actor.

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