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Title:Becoming invisible: changing land use practices and identity strategies of the !Xoon in Namibia between the 1920s and 1970s
Author:Boden, GertrudISNI
Periodical:Journal of Namibian Studies (ISSN 1863-5954)
Geographic term:Namibia
land use
ethnic identity
Abstract:!Xoon are a group of former hunter-gatherers who live in the dry southern Kalahari in eastern Namibia. They have been largely overlooked in both the anthropological publications on the San and in Namibian historiography. The documentation of former !Xoon land use patterns presented in this paper was undertaken with the aim of countering the invisibility of the !Xoon and is based on biographical and historical narratives describing how the !Xoon adapted their territories, settlement patterns, subsistence activities and identity strategies during the period under scrutiny, the 1920-1970s. By placing these strategies in academic discussions about San territoriality the paper shows how territorial behaviour was entangled in the historical process. Next, it argues that through both geographical and social mobility the !Xoon not only reacted to but also consolidated the expropriation of their lands, reinforced pre-cast ethnic categories and thus contributed to the fashioning of their own invisibility. Current pressures on San in Namibia to conform to stereotypes of 'Bushmanness' in order to be visible and eligible for State benefits are an ironic reflection of former pressures on San not to be identifiable as stereotypical Bushmen in order to escape State repression. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]