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Title:The Kalahari Bushman Debate: Implications for Archaeology of Southern Africa
Author:Smith, Andrew B.ISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic terms:Botswana
minority groups
Anthropology and Archaeology
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02582479608671244
Abstract:The 'Great Kalahari Debate' of the 1980s has shaken up the perceived wisdom of the pristine nature of the Kalahari Bushmen of Namibia and Botswana as arche-typical foragers. Revisionists like Ed Wilmsen argue that Kalahari hunters have been in contact with domestic stock and ceramics for almost 2000 years. They suggest that the picture offered by the 'Harvard Kalahari Group' of anthropologists and archaeologists was one created by colonial influences beginning in the mid-19th century, and that the isolation and marginalization of the Bushmen seen today is a relatively recent phenomenon. The present author argues that while the revisionists have a strong case, they have overplayed their hand. What has yet to be fully integrated into the debate are environmental parameters. An ecological distinction which has relevance for pastoralism should be recognized. Archaeological evidence is crucial, since it gives time-depth to the debate. Ref.