The Ju/’hoan San of Nyae Nyae and Namibian Independence: Development, Democracy, and Indigenous Voices in Southern Africa | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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The Ju/’hoan San of Nyae Nyae and Namibian Independence: Development, Democracy, and Indigenous Voices in Southern Africa

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The Ju/’hoan San of Nyae Nyae and Namibian Independence

Development, Democracy, and Indigenous Voices in Southern Africa

Megan Biesele and Robert K. Hitchcock

308 pages, 33 illus., bibliog, index

ISBN  978-1-84545-754-9 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (November 2010)

ISBN  978-1-78238-059-7 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (February 2013)

eISBN 978-1-84545-997-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


Readers will obtain unique insight into how culture is both transformed and maintained in social interaction.”  ·  Choice

“There are many ways in which this is an extraordinary book…This account is much more than a valuable historical documentation. It contains valuable lessons for those in anthropology, NGO’s, development and advocacy, some of which were no doubt painfully learnt. Its themes resonate directly with problems facing other Khoe-San groups and indigenous peoples the world over, from land, food and water to alcohol, health and hope…That this story can be written from the inside with so much subtlety, detail and balance is a truly commendable achievement.”  ·  The Journal of Modern African Studies

“...the most detailed case study ever written of the transformation of a hunting and gathering people - the Ju/’hoansi of Namibia - from a relatively independent and self-sufficient society into an economically struggling ethnic minority in a newly-independent nation state."  ·  Kirk Endicott, Dartmouth College

“This is an important book that will have a strong place in at least two anthropological niches: the anthropology of development, and as a classic anthropological case study…It tells an original story which accomplishes a rarely achieved synthesis of top-down and bottom-up perspective.”  ·  Richard B. Lee


The Ju/’hoan San, or Ju/’hoansi, of Namibia and Botswana are perhaps the most fully described indigenous people in all of anthropology. This is the story of how this group of former hunter-gatherers, speaking an exotic click language, formed a grassroots movement that led them to become a dynamic part of the new nation that grew from the ashes of apartheid South West Africa. While coverage of this group in the writings of Richard Lee, Lorna Marshall, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and films by John Marshall includes extensive information on their traditional ways of life, this book continues the story as it has unfolded since 1990. Peopled with accounts of and from contemporary Ju>/’hoan people, the book gives newly-literate Ju/’hoansi the chance to address the world with their own voices. In doing so, the images and myths of the Ju/’hoan and other San (previously called “Bushmen”) as either noble savages or helpless victims are discredited. This important book demonstrates the responsiveness of current anthropological advocacy to the aspirations of one of the best-known indigenous societies.

Megan Biesele directs the Kalahari Peoples Fund, a US-based advocacy organization. Since the 1970s she has worked with Ju/’hoan San communities in Botswana and Namibia developing curriculum and language archives. She directed the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation at the time of Namibian Independence, and helped establish both the Nyae Nyae Village Schools Project and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. Her publications include “Women Like Meat”: The Folklore and Foraging Ideology of the Kalahari Ju/’hoan (Witwatersrand and Indiana, 1993) and Hunters and Gatherers in the Modern World (co-editor, Berghahn Books, 2000).

Robert K. Hitchcock is an Adjunct Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Previously he was Professor of Anthropology and Geography and Coordinator of African Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1983-2006). He has worked with San communities in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia since 1975, and he serves on the board of the Kalahari Peoples Fund. He worked for the government of Botswana in the Ministry of Local Government and Lands (1977–79) and Ministry of Agriculture (1980–1982) and has served as a consultant to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana. He has also worked for the governments of Somalia, Swaziland, and Lesotho, as well as for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Bank. His publications include Kalahari Cattle Posts (Government of Botswana, 1978); Endangered Peoples of Africa and the Middle East: Struggles to Survive and Thrive (co-editor, Greenwood, 2002); Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Southern Africa (co-editor, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 2004).

Kalahari Peoples Network

Subject: Anthropology (General)Sociology
Area: Africa


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