Africa’s Mountains: Collecting and Interpreting the Past


Highland landscapes are central to Africa’s agrarian history. People have successfully managed them for agriculture and pastoralism for thousands of years. Today these areas are a site of conflicts between conservation and the claims of small-scale farmers. This essay addresses the challenges of collecting and interpreting data for environmental history in East Africa’s highlands, in particular the lack of written sources and the importance of oral history, which required working with translators to interview residents.