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Book Book Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:To Grahamstown and back: towards a socio-cultural history of southern Africa
Author:Gewald, J.B.ISNI
City of publisher:Leiden
Publisher:Leiden University
Geographic terms:Southern Africa
South Africa
material culture
social history
speeches (form)
External link:https://hdl.handle.net/1887/25846
Abstract:In this lecture the author describes and expands upon a painting by Thomas Baines that depicts Amaxhosa migrant labourers leaving the Cape Colony, South Africa, in 1848. The author argues that what is depicted in this painting is representative of what happened in Southern Africa as a whole between 1650 and the present. He uses the painting as a lens through which to look and think about the sub-continent's past and present. This is done by examining the painting in terms of what it tells us about the movement of people, goods and ideas in Southern Africa. The acquisition of material goods transformed the material cultures of the societies involved. Over time there has been a convergence of desires, consumption and the use of material objects within Southern Africa. These material objects only gain meaning when placed within the sociocultural context in which they are used. In conclusion the author argues that Southern Africa is a single whole, albeit with different accents. What ties Southern Africa together besides culturally informed deep structure is labour, economic institutions and the consumptive practises of its population. The economic institutions established in the past two centuries, be they mining companies, labour recruiting agencies, retail chains or trade and border agreements bind Southern Africa together. With slight regional variations and dependent on their class position, Southern Africans work for money, for the same employers, eat the same foods and aspire to the same material goods. In these terms, there is more that binds Southern Africans together than divides them. [Author abstract, edited]