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Miscast. Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen

Miscast. Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen

Miscast: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen explores the term "Bushman" and the relationships that gave rise to it.
05-0000
0-7992-1652-6
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Title: Miscast
Subtitle: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen
Editor: Pippa Skotnes
Publisher: University of Cape Town Press
Cape Town, South Africa 1996
ISBN 0-7992-1652-6
Original softcover, 23x29 cm, 383 pages, throughout illustrated


Content:

In Miscast: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen, eminent scholars explore the term 'Bushman', and the relationships that gave rise to it, from the perspectives of anthropology, archaeology, comparative religion, literary studies, art history, and musicology. Topics as diverse as trophy heads and museums, to the destruction of the Cape San, and appraisals of nineteenth-century photographic practices, are examined. A parallel text runs throughout the book and provides a counter narrative to the central discourses. The book is richly illustrated with previously unpublished photographs and documents from many archives and museum collections.

Although the category 'bushman' is a European construction, the images and representations of Bushmen which survive are not merely products of the European imagination. While an examination of these images tells us more about the Europeans than about the people they sought to represent, it tells us most about the relationships that existed between Khoisan communities and individuals, and the strangers who came and occupied their land.

That these relationships were severely imbalanced in terms of power is witnessed by the extreme objectification of individuals in, for example, the anthropometric studies of the late nineteenth century. That these relationships resulted in the loss of thousands of lives, in multiple language death and cultural genocide, is evidenced in the images of trophy heads, hangings, prison victims and starvation. That these relationships also reflected the rarer moments of mutual respect and a common humanity, is witnessed in the life work of Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd, which resulted in the closest thing we have to a 'Bushman voice' from the nineteenth century.


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