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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Real Bushman is the Male One: Labour and Power in the Creation of Basarwa Ethnicity
Author:Wilmsen, Edwin N.ISNI
Periodical:Botswana Notes and Records (ISSN 0525-5090)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:Botswana
Southern Africa
labour migration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Labor and Employment
Anthropology, Folklore, Culture
San (African people)
Labor supply
External links:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40979851
Abstract:As an ethnic label rather than an economic epitaph, 'Bushmen' (Basarwa in current Setswana usage and San in anthropolocial terms), has a history of barely half a century. The 'Bushmen' image was created by the convergence of indigenous African, European administrative, and academic anthropological interests. The image was one of rootless nomads isolated from the flow of history by the vast distances of the Kalahari. The image has serious consequences today. Although the rhetoric of remoteness is out of vogue, geographic distance, together with ethnic distance, and, to a lesser degree, economic distance, are still defining variables of the San. This article describes how the process of ethnicization in Botswana was essentially a labour process that relegated stigmatized peoples to lower echelons in the labour pool while insulating hegemonically higher strata from lower echelon competition. Then it turns to the history of labour migration in Botswana and reveals that a multitiered system of labour reserves was required in the Bechuanaland Protectorate in order to free Tswana men from otherwise inescapable duties in domestic production and allow them to take advantage of cash income opportunities on the mines and farms of South Africa. One subordinate tier in this system is composed of ethnic minorities, among whom San-speakers are prominent. The essential role of this group in maintaining the labour system within Botswana is only now coming to be appreciated. Bibliogr., notes, ref.