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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Knowledge free and 'unfree': epistemic tensions in plant knowledge at the Cape in the 17th and 18th centuries
Author:Augusto, Geri
Year:2007
Periodical:International Journal of African Renaissance Studies
Volume:2
Issue:2
Pages:136-182
Language:English
Geographic terms:South Africa
The Cape
Subjects:botany
ethnobotany
medicinal plants
expeditions
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/18186870701751673
Abstract:This article utilizes the same epistemic objects, particular indigenous medicinal plants of the Cape region, South Africa, to explore the gamut of epistemologies in contested, dynamic tension in the early Cape Colony: those of the European frontiersmen, the Khoikhoi, the Sonqua or Sankwe, and the enslaved. Drawing on a transdisciplinary set of literatures, the article puts Africana studies, the study of indigenous knowledge systems, and social studies of science and technology in wider conversation with each other, and argues for the adoption of an epistemic openness, methodologies which 'braid' seemingly separate strands of social history and differing knowledge practices, and cross-border collaboration among scholars of African and African diasporic knowledges. It focuses on the medico-botanical knowledge acquired during three historic voyages, viz. the military expedition to Namaqualand of the party led by the VOC's Van der Stel and Van Reede in 1685, and two 'botanizing' quests nearly a century later - those of the Swedish Linnaean disciples Carl Thunberg and Anders Sparrman. The findings and interpretation suggest new ways to view the 'multiplexity' of early indigenous southern African botanical, therapeutic and ecological knowledges, as well as the necessity for rethinking both the construction of colonial sciences and contemporary concerns about indigenous knowledge, biosciences and their 21st-century interaction. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract, edited]
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