Writing in the San/d: Autoethnography among Indigenous Southern Africans

Rowman Altamira
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The San/Bushmen are one of the most studied people in anthropology, subjects of research going back one hundred years, of documentaries, and even of popular movies (The Gods Must Be Crazy). This intriguing new work on the San is a team-based ethnography, collaborative (one of the writers is married to a member of the community), reflexive (the authors become characters in the book themselves), and literary (with poetry, dialogue, interviews, photography, and first person accounts, as well as traditional ethnographic description). In this book, South Africans are studying other South Africans, in a new environment in which many San are no longer hunter gatherers, but are activist and engaged in cultural tourism. It will be an exciting counterpoint to traditional ethnographies and stories about the San people, for anthropologists and Africanists.
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About the author

Keyan G. Tomaselli is professor and chair of Culture, Communication and Media Studies (CCMS) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban. He has written extensively on his Kalahari research in Visual Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Critical Arts and Cultural Studies: Critical Methodologies. He is author of Appropriating Images: The Semiotics of Visual Representation.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rowman Altamira
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Published on
Apr 16, 2007
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Pages
190
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ISBN
9780759113831
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Wide-ranging and engaging, Selves in Question considers the various ways in which auto/biographical accounts situate and question the self in contemporary southern Africa.The twenty-seven interviews presented here consider both the ontological status and the representation of the self. They remind us that the self is constantly under construction in webs of interlocution and that its status and representation are always in question. The contributors, therefore, look at ways in which auto/biographical practices contribute to placing, understanding, and troubling the self and selves in postcolonies in the current global constellation. They examine topics such as the contexts conducive to production processes; the contents and forms of auto/biographical accounts; and finally, their impact on the producers and the audience. In doing so they map out a multitude of variables--including the specific historical juncture, geo-political locations, social positions, cultures, languages, generations, and genders--in their relations to auto/biographical practices. Those interviewed include the famous and the hardly known, women and men, writers and performers who communicate in a variety of languages: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, and Yiddish. An extensive introduction offers a general framework on the contestation of self through auto/biography, a historical overview of auto/biographical representation in South Africa up to the present time, an outline of theoretical and thematic issues at stake in southern Africa auto/biography, and extensive primary and secondary biographies.

Interviewees: Breyten Breytenbach, Dennis Brutus, Valentine Cascarino, Vanitha Chetty, Wilfred Cibane, Greig Coetzee, J. M. Coetzee, Paul Faber, David Goldblatt, Stephen Gray, Dorian Haarhoff, Rayda Jacobs, Elsa Joubert, K. Limakatso Kendall, Ester Lee, Doris Lessing, Sindiwe Magona, Margaret McCord, N. Chabani Manganyi, Zolani Mkiva, Jonathan Morgan, Es kia Mphahlele, Rob Nixon, Mpho Nthunya, Robert Scott, Gillian Slovo, Alex J. Thembela, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Johan van Wyk, Wilhelm Verwoerd, David Wolpe, D. L. P.Yali Manisi.

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Why would a man tie up a cheap suitcase with grass rope, leave his family and his paesani in Italy to risk his life and meager possessions among the dock thieves of Naples and Genoa to suffer the congestion and stench of steerage accommodations aboard ship, to endure the assembly-line processing of Ellis Island, to wander almost incommunicado through a city of sneering strangers speaking an unknown tongue, to perform ten to twelve hours of heavy manual labor a day for wages of perhaps $1.65—most of which he probably owed to the "company store" before he got it? Why were there not just a few such men but droves of them coming to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? How did they survive and—some of them—prosper? How did they surmount the language barrier? Why did some stay, some go home, and some bounce back and forth repeatedly across the Atlantic? Michael La Sorte examines these questions and more in this lively study of Italian immigration prior to World War I. In exploring for answers, he draws upon the commentary of recent scholars, as well as the statistical documents of the day. But most importantly, he has searched out individual stories in the published and unpublished diaries, letters, and autobiographies of immigrants who lived the "greenhorn" (grignoni) experience. In their own language, the men bring to life the teeming tenements of New York's Mulberry Street, the exploitative labor-recruiting practices of Boston's North Square, and the harsh squalor of work camp life along the country's expanding railroad lines. What emerges is a powerful, moving, alternately funny and appalling picture of their everyday lives. Through detailed narration, La Sorte traces the men's lives from their native villages across the Atlantic through the ports of entry to their first immigrant jobs. He describes their views of Italy, America, and each other, the cultural and linguistic adjustments that they were compelled to make, and their motives for either Americanizing or repatriating themselves. His chapter on "Italglish" (a hybrid language developed by the greenhorns) will echo in the ears of Italian-Americans as the sound of their parents' and grandparents' voices.
Look out for Anna Badkhen's new book, Fisherman's Blues: A West African Community at Sea, on sale now

An intrepid journalist joins the planet’s largest group of nomads on an annual migration that, like them, has endured for centuries.
 
Anna Badkhen has forged a career chronicling life in extremis around the world, from war-torn Afghanistan to the border regions of the American Southwest. In Walking with Abel, she embeds herself with a family of Fulani cowboys—nomadic herders in Mali’s Sahel grasslands—as they embark on their annual migration across the savanna. It’s a cycle that connects the Fulani to their past even as their present is increasingly under threat—from Islamic militants, climate change, and the ever-encroaching urbanization that lures away their young. The Fulani, though, are no strangers to uncertainty—brilliantly resourceful and resilient, they’ve contended with famines, droughts, and wars for centuries.
 
Dubbed “Anna Ba” by the nomads, who embrace her as one of theirs, Badkhen narrates the Fulani’s journeys and her own with compassion and keen observation, transporting us from the Neolithic Sahara crisscrossed by rivers and abundant with wildlife to obelisk forests where the Fulani’s Stone Age ancestors painted tributes to cattle. As they cross the Sahel, the savanna belt that stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, they accompany themselves with Fulani music they download to their cell phones and tales of herders and hustlers, griots and holy men, infused with the myths the Fulani tell themselves to ground their past, make sense of their identity, and safeguard their—our—future.
This is the second volume in a trilogy in which Stefan Zweig builds a composite picture of the European mind through intellectual portraits selected from among its most representative and influential figures. In 'Hoelderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche', Zweig concentrates on three giants of German literature to portray the artist and thinker as a figure possessed by a powerful inner vision at odds with the materialism and scientific positivism of his time, in this case, the nineteenth century. Zweig's subjects here are respectively a lyric poet, a dramatist and writer of novellas, and a philosopher. Each led an unstable life ending in madness and/or suicide and not until the twentieth century did each make their full impact. Whereas the nineteenth-century novel is socially capacious in terms of subject and audience, the three figures treated here are prophets or forerunners of modernist ideas of alienation and exile. Hoelderlin and Kleist consciously opposed the worldly harmoniousness of Goethe's classicism in favor of a visionary inwardness and dramatisation of the subjective psyche. Nietzsche set himself as a destroyer and rebuilder of philosophy and critic of the degradation of the German spirit through nationalism and militarism. Zweig's choice of subjects reflects a division in his own soul. The image of Goethe recurs here as the ultimate upholder of Zweig's own ideals: scientist and artist, receptive to world culture, supremely rational and prudent. Yet Zweig was aware that Hoelderlin, Kleist, and Nietzsche were more daring explorers of the dangerous and destructive aspects of man that needed to be seen and comprehended in the clarifying light of poetry and philosophy.
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

When three-month-old Lia Lee Arrived at the county hospital emergency room in Merced, California, a chain of events was set in motion from which neither she nor her parents nor her doctors would ever recover. Lia's parents, Foua and Nao Kao, were part of a large Hmong community in Merced, refugees from the CIA-run "Quiet War" in Laos. The Hmong, traditionally a close-knit and fiercely people, have been less amenable to assimilation than most immigrants, adhering steadfastly to the rituals and beliefs of their ancestors. Lia's pediatricians, Neil Ernst and his wife, Peggy Philip, cleaved just as strongly to another tradition: that of Western medicine. When Lia Lee Entered the American medical system, diagnosed as an epileptic, her story became a tragic case history of cultural miscommunication.

Parents and doctors both wanted the best for Lia, but their ideas about the causes of her illness and its treatment could hardly have been more different. The Hmong see illness aand healing as spiritual matters linked to virtually everything in the universe, while medical community marks a division between body and soul, and concerns itself almost exclusively with the former. Lia's doctors ascribed her seizures to the misfiring of her cerebral neurons; her parents called her illness, qaug dab peg--the spirit catches you and you fall down--and ascribed it to the wandering of her soul. The doctors prescribed anticonvulsants; her parents preferred animal sacrifices.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In Sapiens, he explored our past. In Homo Deus, he looked to our future. Now, one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet turns to the present to make sense of today’s most pressing issues.

“Fascinating . . . a crucial global conversation about how to take on the problems of the twenty-first century.”—Bill Gates, The New York Times Book Review

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY FINANCIAL TIMES AND PAMELA PAUL, KQED 

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.

“If there were such a thing as a required instruction manual for politicians and thought leaders, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century would deserve serious consideration. In this collection of provocative essays, Harari . . . tackles a daunting array of issues, endeavoring to answer a persistent question: ‘What is happening in the world today, and what is the deep meaning of these events?’”—BookPage (top pick)
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