'My Name did Float Along the Road': Naming Practices and Xam Bushman Identities in the 19th-century Karoo (South Africa)

'My Name did Float Along the Road': Naming Practices and Xam Bushman Identities in the 19th-century Karoo (South Africa)

Author: 
McGranaghan, Mark
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis
Date published: 
2015
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Studies
Source: 
African Studies, Vol. 74, No. 3, December 2015, pp. 270-289
Abstract: 

Naming practices have the potential to inform on a whole series of socio-cultural phenomena, often being deeply embedded in identity-formation at a variety of scales - from the personal to the construction of 'kin', as well as in larger-scale group memberships. For this reason, ethnographers of southern African 'San' or 'Bushman' populations in the Kalahari have long been interested in the significance of naming practices in the production of universalised kin categories amongst these hunter-gatherer societies. This article looks at the evidence for personal names among the Southern Bushmen of the Karoo, drawing on the Bleek-Lloyd archive to explore the relevance of onomastic data for understanding the construction of Xam identities. In particular, the article explores the variety of ways in which Xam names intersected with their subsistence practices and ontological orientations, key elements emphasised in emic definitions of 'personhood'. The article then moves on to examine the ways in which these practices were maintained during the 19th century, a time in which Xam societies were undergoing dramatic changes as they attempted to deal with colonial encroachment of their territories.

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CITATION: McGranaghan, Mark. 'My Name did Float Along the Road': Naming Practices and Xam Bushman Identities in the 19th-century Karoo (South Africa) . : Taylor & Francis , 2015. African Studies, Vol. 74, No. 3, December 2015, pp. 270-289 - Available at: http://library.au.int/my-name-did-float-along-road-naming-practices-and-xam-bushman-identities-19th-century-karoo-south-0