Rethinking Indigeneity


Rethinking Indigeneity

Discursive Negotiations via Cultural Tourism and Community-Lodge Partnerships

Strategies proposed by pro-poor tourism
(PPT) (Ashley et al 2001a, 2001b) will be tested with regard to a case
study of !Xaus Lodge (website:
). PPT might be able to mobilise ethnic identities, indigeneity and
performance as culturally sensitive marketing factors while also
underpinning viable tourism/lodge-community partnerships embedded in
appropriate development strategies. A puzzling feature of postcolonial
life is that primordialized and essentialized representations of
primitive ‘Bushmen’ are being vigorously reasserted in the media and NGO
rhetoric at the very moment that the San are beginning to engage the
world politically (Sylvain 2005: 354). This study will interrogate the
reasons for the (re-)emergence of this discourse, and work with our
subject communities in developing participatory research strategies to
engage it, and to create the conditions for a discursive negotiation
which includes the `other’-wise represented communities themselves. We
thereby hope to reveal the nature of San historical and contemporary
take(s) on such Western concepts such as `quality of life’ and `standard
of living’ and, in particular, the dynamic of notions of economic
justice and fairness.

Our generic framing research questions include:

  1. If indigeneity
    involves the contemporary performance of self that enacts a restoration
    of relations to one’s past, what is the historical relationship of
    indigenous communities to especially film, television and tourism?
  2. Given that the
    Indigene’s historically unacknowledged claim to political primacy casts
    the constitutionality of ALL frameworks of relation to crisis, what are
    appropriate bases for a research and other kinds of relationship between
    the Indigene and the academic?
  3. How do the
    relationships of Indigenous communities to their land, their natural
    environment, the built environment, and place function in a contemporary
    era of environmental concern conceived largely through Western
    practices? (Questions framed in conjunction with Nicholls and Murray,
    see below under Co-investigators.)

Specific research questions include:

  1. Can the just-inaugurated !Xaus Lodge development experiment be used as a general model for PPT?
  2. Will the model
    generate a culturally sensitive and business-savvy community-lodge
    partnership? Using !Xaus Lodge as a benchmark, the study will examine
    issues of indigeneity, representation, and cultural tourism within
    lodge-community relations, with reference to other San community-lodge
    developments and ‘cultural’ sites such as Mabilingwe, and the
    unsuccessful Kagga Kamma and Ostri-San ventures. The Zulu cultural
    villages and lodges of Shakaland, Simunye, Stewart’s Farm and Sibaya
    etc. will be offered as comparative case studies. (These will be the
    focus of Peter Pels of Leiden University, see under Co-investigators.)
  3. How will =Khomani
    employed at !Xaus Lodge construct, negotiate and rearticulate their
    discursive cultural and environmental resources of ‘authenticity’,
    indigeneity and their First People status in terms of tourist
    expectations, interactions and media discourses?
  4. How will this specific
    indigenous articulation negotiate, shape and engage broader popular
    discourses ‘about the Bushmen’? In other words, what forms does it take
    and how is it dealt with in the contemporary world?
  5. What kinds of
    generalised community-lodge partnerships can be designed to best
    negotiate the demands of cultural marketing on the one hand, and the
    symbolic, spiritual and livelihood needs of a cultural community of
    practice on the other?

The proposed study continues a 20 year,
five phase project, on issues relating to the Kalahari San. This
research has involved nearly 80 Honours, MA and PhD students registered
at UKZN, and a number of local and international research affiliates
since 1995. The project has been characterized by co-terminous,
intersecting, and ongoing research phases: Phase 1 introduced analysis
of cinematic and television representations of the San and Zulu
(1986ff). Phase 2, titled the “Semiotics of the Encounter”, required
extensive empirical fieldwork with three communities, one each in
Namibia (the Ju/’hoansi, Eastern Bushmanland), Botswana (the !Xoo,
Ngwatle) and the Northern Cape (the =Khomani, Witdraaai) and amongst
Zulu-speaking San descendants (the Duma) in the Kamberg, KwaZulu-Natal
(1995ff). This second phase introduced analysis on cultural tourism,
identity, performance and resistance in both the Kalahari and in
KwaZulu-Natal. It also examined researcher-researched relations, and
provided the basis for the systematic development of auto-ethnographic
and participatory field research methods. Phase 3, “From Observation
to Development” (2003ff), incorporated research on development
communication, media production and reception, and policy (the Gwi and
Gana, Botswana), livelihoods (Ngwatle), micro-enterprises (=Khomani) and
community radio as a development medium (the !Xu and Kwe in

Deriving out of the three phases is the
fourth research phase, for which this application is being submitted.
This phase will examine a specific development project: the genesis,
establishment and performance of !Xaus Lodge, co-owned by the =Khomani
and Mier communities. It will rethink the place of Indigeneity – a
status usually accorded to “remnant prior peoples living on their former
lands in the margins of nation states” (Barry Barclay, Leeds
hui Postcolonial Studies tends to assume a history in which an evolution
to the post-essentialist hybrid, migrant or diasporic identities
associated with the contemporary globalised world, has occurred from an
identitarian nativism associated with anti-colonial nationalisms in the
1950s and 1960s. As a result of this implicitly progressivist model,
Indigeneity is sometimes construed as a throwback to long-defunct
Manichean categories formed in opposition and resistance, rather than as
a meaningful contemporary claim upon the world. How these categories
are negotiated by the San (Mier and Zulu) will be examined (cf.
Clelland-Stokes 2007) (for publication details click here).
How will the Mier present their own sense of indigeneity, if any, in
the context of the Lodge? How will they negotiate their common and
different heritages to the =Khomani? meeting 2006) – in contemporary
Postcolonial Studies. (This categorisation may not apply to the way that
the Mier represent themselves vis-à-vis the =Khomani.)

Phase 5 (2010-2015) is envisaged to start
towards the middle of Phase 4. This will offer strategies and models
for implementation of what has been learned from Phases 1-4 as we seek
to generalize the model across other community-lodge/park/hotel ventures
in the region.

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