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The Griqua Conundrum

Political and Socio-Cultural Identity in the Northern Cape, South Africa

Linda Waldmann

This book offers a reconceptualisation of indigenous people and their political involvement. It demonstrates the deep intertwining of constructions of indigenousness and identity with national, social and political histories and argues that differences and fractures within the indigenous movement – between leaders, spokespeople and ordinary men and women – shape the nature of indigenous politics both nationally and internationally. South Africa’s resident population of Griqua provide the context for this exploration of indigenous mobilisation, politics and ethnic identity. The Griqua people have long sought, and only recently acquired, official recognition within their country of birth. Using qualitative research methodologies and an anthropological approach, this book documents negotiation between Griqua leaders, organisers and government officials and, in so doing, details a complex process of mediation and interaction generally overlooked in the discourse of indigenous identity. This exploration of identity is essential to understanding post-apartheid South African history, politics and society. In addressing the marginalisation of Griqua followers and examining the meaning of being Griqua for those ‘quieter’, poorer people who live in the small town of Griquatown, and who are relatively isolated from the Indigenous People’s Forum and the United Nations, the book also examines the ‘hidden’ dimensions of political and indigenous mobilisation.
Contents: Griqua Unity and South African Nationalism – A History of the Griqua Dispossession and Struggle – The Attempted Making and Remaking of the Griqua People – The Search for Social Status and Esteem – Houses and the Ritual Construction of Gendered Homes – Representations of Self and Society.