White Namibians in tourism and the politics of belonging through Bushmen

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Abstract

Namibian Bushmen, such as the Hai//om and the Ju/’hoansi, are increasingly involved in the growing, white-dominated tourism industry. In this, white Namibians tend to position Bushmen and themselves as people of nature and conservationists. Elsewhere, whites from southern Africa have avoided contact with blacks by identifying more with nature than with people. This has been an important element in their “politics of belonging” to the land. From this perspective, Bushmen occupy a special position because they are considered “part of nature” while they are also members of contemporary society. Although this view is paradoxical at first sight, I argue that essentialising Bushmen as people of nature and modernising (developing) them “into society” are compatible ideas that can strengthen white Namibians’ belonging to nature and society. Against the background of the global indigenous movement and local history, crucial elements in this process of belonging are the tourists’ quest for authenticity and southern African paternalism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-15
JournalAnthropology Southern Africa
Volume38
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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