Before Farming

Indigenous images of a colonial exotic: imaginings from Bushman southern Africa

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (1), 1–22.

Abstract

Rock-art is a powerful and theoretically informed artefact that allows non-rock-art producing people an understanding of the worldview of the rock-artists. But the flow of information in such rock-art researches – ‘us’ observing ‘them’ via ‘their’ artefacts is often asymmetrical and can be disempowering to the rock-art-producing individuals and communities past and present. Fortunately, rock-art is also able to balance and even reverse this asymmetry. For example, there are certain ‘contact’ period Bushman rock engravings and rock paintings in southern Africa that were produced at and after the time of the colonisation of southern Africa by non-Bushmen. Some of the power relations between indigenes and colonists are made explicit in the form of rock-paintings and rock-engravings. Specifically, much of this rock-art shows how the Bushmen imagined and imaged the colonists.

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Ouzman, Sven

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