Academic journal article African Studies Review

San and the State: Contesting Land, Development, Identity and Representation

Academic journal article African Studies Review

San and the State: Contesting Land, Development, Identity and Representation

Article excerpt

ANTHROPOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY

Thekla Hohmann, ed. San and the State: Contesting Land, Development, Identity and Representation. Koln: Rudiger Koppe Verlag, 2003. 402 pp. Maps. Tables. Photographs. Diagrams. Euros 64. Cloth.

This is a refreshing book for two reasons. First, there are no contributions by scholars based in North America. Thus it would appear to signify a break from the academic hegemony of North American scholars on those now labeled "San." second, it does not have a chapter focusing on those most famous of San, the ju/'hoansi immortalized in John Marshall's films and the ethnographies of Lee and Biesele. By broadening and internationalizing the scholarly enterprise, this volume shows how much more complex both the San and their scholarship are.

The volume starts with a brace of papers dealing with the Hei//om. While Dieckmann focuses largely on their plight in the Etosha Game Park, Widlok's workmanlike paper looks at land encroachment in the Eastern Owambo communal area. he treats land as a moral resource for the state to establish its legitimacy and points out that most San opt for sharing rather than exclusive land rights. The next two papers deal with the Khwe situation in the Caprivi Strip, a sliver of land heavily militarized in the past, with grave consequences for the San minority who now have apparently been labeled by the SWAPO government as military collaborators with the apartheid regime. Orth writes on the land struggle and Boden discusses the impact of the armed struggle. Given that this area has hitherto been an inaccessible one for researchers, their essays are particularly valuable.

Hohmann's own contribution is a chapter on the struggle to create a "nature conservancy" in Western Bushmanland. It looks so closely at the micropolitics that it fails to appreciate the more intriguing question: Why is it that (inter) national development experts believe that San are so well-suited to CBNRM (Community Based Natural Resource Management) projects? And what is anthropological liability in this regard? …

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