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GSSC Seminar Series
09 January 2024


Human-Environment Eelationships of Indigenous San Communities in Namibia in the Past and Present

Ute Diekmann (University of Cologne) and Eleftheria Paliou (University of Cologne)



In this talk, Eleftheria Paliou and Ute Dieckmann will present different approaches to explore human-environment relations of two San communities (Haiǁom, Ju|’hoansi) in Namibia.
In the first part, Eleftheria Paliou will adopt an archaeological perspective and will discuss research methods at the intersection of Indigenous Knowledge and Computational Archaeology. She will give a brief overview of research approaches which have been adopted in collaborative projects that bring together archaeologists from the University of Cologne and Indigenous animal tracking experts. This collaboration aims to inform socio-ecological computational models of past hunter-gatherer mobility and behaviour.
In the second part, Ute Dieckmann who participated as an anthropologist in one of the field trips of the above research projects, will reflect on her own research methods used in a cultural mapping project undertaken with Haiǁom in the Etosha National Park. Furthermore, she will discuss the kind of knowledge(s) produced with these different methodologies.

Eleftheria Paliou is professor in Computational Archaeology at the Archaeological Institute (University of Cologne) and Director of the Cologne Digital Archaeology Lab (CoDArchLab). Her research focuses on the development and application of computational methods in archaeology. She is currently leading research projects in Namibia and Germany funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, BMBF, and DFG. Her work is more widely concerned with the relationship between spatial and social organization in prehistoric and historic cultures, and the ways in which past societies conceptualize and attribute meanings to their environment.

Ute Dieckmann is an anthropologist at the University of Cologne and currently the German Principal Investigator for Etosha-Kunene Histories Project (, supported by DFG and AHRC. For many years, she worked at the Legal Assistance Centre in Windhoek, engaging in research with and advocacy for marginalized and indigenous communities in Namibia.