Draper has been a speaker at Leiden’s African Studies Centre and previously contributed a chapter titled, “Holy Trout: New Zealand and South Africa” to Backcasts: A Global History of Fly Fishing and Conservation (2016) published by The University of Chicago Press 50 years after their publication of Norman MacClean’s A River Runs Through It.
His first chapter illuminates how shifting paradigms of human engagement with nature can lead to inversion rather than progression. It shows that a mediagenic and transfrontiersmanship approach was adopted to market Southern Africa as an ecotourist destination, a post-national and post-colonial borderless product with culture (particularly indigenous culture) given primacy over and fused with nature, rather than the two being alienated from one another as was the case during the imperial and colonial era.
‘Ecocriticism has opened a new frontier for scholarship and, while showing the shortcomings of the programme, it can also appreciate the sincerity of postmodern transfrontiersmen’s journeys of reconciliation with their past as conquerors turning inward to the ultimate frontier to be tackled within the Western self. Such a perspective can challenge the anti-neoliberal orthodoxy,’ said Draper.
His second chapter expands on his published work on trout in South Africa to compare it with the New Zealand experience.
Draper has been fishing for trout since he was young and manages to combine his passion with his profession. He enjoys wielding his rod as a research instrument and has assisted with World Bank funded research on fly-fishing and tourism in the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park between Lesotho and South Africa. There are pictures of him fishing for the indigenous yellowfish in the ensuing book, The Maloti Drakensberg Experience published by the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project (2007).
Draper has also followed the story of trout in Zimbabwe and Kenya. His interest in tourism took him to New Zealand where he spoke at a conference in Waikato and published a chapter on “African Wilderness” in the ensuing book. While there he fished for Southern Hemisphere parallels and differences between the introduction of trout and the establishment of conservation institutions.
An essential part of this was a rod-wielding pilgrimage to Scotland. The resulting essay, “Holy Trout” is part of a volume on fly-fishing and conservation published by The University of Chicago Press. He extended these ideas as a featured speaker at the World of Trout Congress at Montana State University, Bozeman.
Draper also helped to organise the World Wilderness Congress initiated by late South African conservationist, Ian Player. His work is published in the proceedings and The International Journal of Wilderness. This led to fishing in Alaska. He co-authored two of the chapters in the book that resulted from the Congress, one with Fisheries scientists on trout management and the other with an historian and an anthropologist on the social and cultural values of trout. It will be published soon by the American Fisheries Society.