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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Sisters at the rockface: the Van der Riet twins and Dorothea Bleek's rock art research and publishing, 1932-1940
Author:Weintroub, JillISNI
Periodical:African Studies
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:research methods
rock art
indigenous knowledge
About person:Dorothea Frances Bleek (1873-1948)ISNI
Abstract:This article discusses the processes, networks and contingencies underlying the making of scientific knowledge in the field, theorizing these in relation to scholarship dealing with the field sciences which has engaged with the dynamics of 'the field' as complex site and context of knowledge production in particular disciplines. Drawing on the archive and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek, it examines a particular field research project in South Africa in the 1930s which centred on the reproduction of rock art, contrasting the 'dirty' detail of fieldwork with the sanitized texts produced later for public consumption. It describes the creation of knowledge in the field as a contingent, interactive and haphazard process at the rock face rather than the purposeful, coherent and methodical practice later presented as authoritative scientific knowledge. The article examines the personal relationships between the researcher and her assistants, the Van der Riet sisters, who were studying art at the Grahamstown art college at the time, as well as the broader social and political networks in which the inquiry was located. It shows how both the researcher and her assistants are inscribed into the outputs they produce in a variety of ways and how knowledge flows in both directions between researcher and assistants. It describes how methodology develops in organic, pragmatic ways often in reaction to the specifics of a particular field site and how the affectivities in terms of personalities and energies of the research assistants contribute to and influence research results. In addition, the article examines the ways in which local or indigenous knowledge may be mediated through research assistants and supervisor to become part of the scientific knowledge that emerges at the end of the process. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]