Production, Reproduction and the Making of People: The Rock Art of Households and Homesteads in the Northern Cape, South Africa

Associate Professor Simon Hall will present the Department of Archaeology seminar with a talk entitled, "Production, Reproduction and the Making of People: The Rock Art of Households and Homesteads in the Northern Cape, South Africa". 

One motif theme in the rock engraving of southern African Bantu-speaking farmers is the depiction of household and homestead space. In this paper we focus on engravings that can be linked to ancestral Tswana-speaking cattle and cereal farmers in the Northern Cape that date between the 17th and 19th centuries. Using ethnographic sources we outline the spatial structure of a Tswana household that provided the physical setting for quotidian domestic production and consumption. This spatial structure was also indivisibly the arena of social reproduction, and especially, a ‘map’ of gendered roles and responsibilities. It is against this background that we discuss the engraving of household space as performed and embodied action in the process of girls development towards the responsibilities of adulthood. We also consider associated engravings of clothing and bodily adornment. While the act of engraving households by girls may have been part of their initiation process, they were not necessarily produced within a fixed ritual setting. In conclusion we make some suggestions about the specific historic context within which this art was made. These consider widespread shifts in the organisation of farming communities from the 17th century that correlate with the encroachment the colonial frontier.

Date: 
Monday, March 5, 2018 - 13:00
Venue: 

Teaching Studio, Room 3.10, Department of Archaeology, Beattie Building,  Upper Campus, UCT

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