Re: Southafrica

Mon, 4 Dec 1995 04:32:07 -0500


Who exactly are the original people and who are the Europeans? The
idea that racial groups in South Africa never mixed is precisely the
myth that underlaid apartheid. The intermingling of Khoisan, African,
Indian, Malay, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese, English, French - to name
but a few - has resulted in an incredibly complex cultural matrix.
Sure, apartheid classified people into discrete groups, but in
practice these were often ambiguous and fluid. The boundary between
Afrikaans-speaking 'coloureds' and 'white' Afrikaners, for example,
is extremely porous. And there is no way one could describe
Afrikaners as European anyway.

Having said that, of course cross-cultural communication is an
important area of study. There is an enormous body of literature on
South Africa. I suggest you explore your library. If you want an
introductory text on the politics of apartheid, you might like to
look at Alf Stadler's 1987 book, 'The Political Economy of Modern
South Africa'. For material on today's situation, there are lots of
South African journals (South African Review, Transformation, African
Studies etc etc) and international journals like the Journal of
Southern African Studies. I don't know what's available in Denmark,
but Kirsten Hastrup at the University of Copenhagen (anthropology
department) visited us recently, and has sent over several Masters
students to do research on the same sorts of issues you are
interested in. Maybe you should get in touch with her?

Good luck.
Justine Lucas
Department of Social Anthropology
University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa