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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Home-Made Ethnography: Re-Visiting the 'Xhosa in Town' Trilogy
Author:Bank, LeslieISNI
Periodical:Kronos: Journal of Cape History
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:social change
anthropological research
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Ethnic and Race Relations
Urbanization and Migration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/41056486
Abstract:Duncan Village in East London, Eastern Cape (South Africa) is a well-worked site of knowledge production in anthropology. In the 1950s and 1960s, fieldwork in the old East Bank location was carried out and resulted in three anthropological monographs: 'The black man's portion', by D.H. Reader (1960), Philip Mayer's 'Townsmen or tribesmen' (1961) and B.A. Pauw's 'The second generation' (1963). Collectively, these studies became known as the 'Xhosa in town' trilogy. In the anthropological literature on urbanization and social change in southern Africa the trilogy stood out for its ethnographic account of cultural conservatism and the persistence of tradition in a changing urban context. The initially positive reception given to the trilogy faded during the 1970s. The present paper revisits the 'Xhosa in town' project. It is based on extensive interviews with East and West Bank residents who lived in the old locations described by the authors of the 'Xhosa in town' trilogy. It suggests that the emphasis on migrant conservatism was a consequence of the fact that so much of the fieldwork for the project was conducted in the old wood-and-iron houses and their backyards, where migrants lived and socialized. A more varied fieldwork strategy, shifting attention to more public sites like streets or dance halls, would have generated a different understanding of the location's cultural dynamics. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]