4
Beckoning of the Kalahari

Many twentieth-century anthropologists would come to see the Bushman through the eyes of Isaac Schapera. His Khoisan Peoples of South Africa (Schapera 1930) summarized all that was then known of Khoisan peoples and brought to the attention of English-speaking readers a wealth of German-language material collected from the 1860s onwards. In German-language anthropology, Bushmen provided one of several models of the ultimate and primal ancient culture, the Urkultur that in that tradition was long believed to underlie all subsequent cultural spheres spread by migration and diffusion across the earth.

In anglophone anthropology, the concern with Bushmen was not that great except within South Africa itself, where ethnographic, linguistic, archaeological, rock art, historical and biological interests combined to give quite a different picture. From the 1920s, South Africa became one of the first countries to see the emergence of professional social anthropology, and studies by a number of writers, not least Schapera and Dorothea Bleek, contributed to new images of the Bushman in anthropology. Meanwhile, the public face of the Bushman was changing too, and cultural-historical anthropology competed with structural-functionalist for professional and public perceptions of the Bushman 'race'. And developing alongside social anthropology was a South African archaeological tradition that was to parallel social anthropology and take the lead in Bushman studies until the dawn of the modern era of Kalahari ethnography in the 1950s.


Stone Age Archaeology in South Africa

Janette Deacon's (1990) 'Weaving the Fabric …' gives a splendid review of the history of Stone Age archaeology in South Africa. She begins her story in the 1850s, with butterfly collector turned artefact gatherer Colonel J.H. Bowker and his brother Thomas Holden Bowker. Which one made the first discoveries, and whether it was in 1855 or 1858, is a matter of very long debate (albeit a not-veryimportant debate). What is important is, first, that they accumulated stone tools not long after similar collections were being made in Europe and, secondly, that they and their contemporaries collected with a view towards comparison. Encouraged by these European discoveries, T.H. Bowker sent part of his collection to England.

-39-

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Anthropology and the Bushman
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: From Early Encounters to Early Anthropology 11
  • 3: Victorian Visions of the Bushman 23
  • 4: Beckoning of the Kalahari 39
  • 5: Amateurs and Cultural Ecologists 53
  • 6: An Original Affluent Society? 67
  • 7: The Return of Myth and Symbol 83
  • 8: Kalahari Revisionism and Portrayals of Contact 97
  • 9: Advocacy, Development and Partnership 113
  • 10: Representations and Self-Representations 129
  • 11: Reflections and Conclusions 143
  • References 149
  • Index 172
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