mark mcgranaghan on san

05Sep14

Mark McGranaghan, ‘Different people’ coming together: representations of alterity in ∣Xam Bushman (San) narrative’, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies 28, 4 (2014).

Colonial processes around the world had major impacts on the indigenous populations with whom colonists interacted – this is particularly true for small-scale populations that relied heavily on foraging subsistence practices. Historical sources that document these impacts are in the main highly skewed toward representations made by colonial populations themselves. The dominance of these representations forms a major challenge to attempts to reinterrogate colonial historical accounts of the processes of colonisation, and renders opaque the ways in which indigenous populations themselves understood and manipulated their historical interactions with ‘Others’. The Bleek–Lloyd archive – focusing on the ∣Xam Bushmen of the arid interior Karoo of South Africa – offers the opportunity both to question colonial presentations of ‘Bushman’ identities, and to explore Bushman representations of their 19th-century situation. This article discusses one aspect of these representations, focusing on the way in which ∣Xam individuals constructed ‘alien’ identities, and how these were manipulated in social discourse.



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