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A Subversive Ethnogenesis: Resistance, Racial Mobility, and Nama Intellectual History in Colonial Namibia, ca. 1820-1980s

When: Tuesday, April 10, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Graduate Students

Contact: Elizabeth Morrissey  

Group: Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


EDGS Graduate Lecture Series

Andrea Rosengarten, History

Most current scholarship on segregation in Southern Africa accepts that the racial categories the apartheid government used to separate “African” populations from “Coloured” non-native people were relatively self-evident. However, an examination of colonialism and segregation as experienced by Nama-speakers in the Namibian-South African borderlands of the Orange River region troubles the conventional understanding of supposed racial divisions between Africans and Coloureds, who are commonly understood as a separate “mixed race” group.
My preliminary research has indicated that behind apartheid-era censuses listing a large “Coloured” population in southern Namibia, there exists a far more complex story about Nama strategies of ethnic and racial fluidity and resistance in deeper historical perspective. In this talk, I trace the writerly approaches and organizing strategies that Nama leaders and intellectuals used over several generations to rearrange the boundaries of their communities. From an early 19th-century period of missionary engagement and Nama language standardization, to the German colonial period (1884-1915) ending in a genocide, to the South African period (1915-1990) where Nama-speaking survivors of the genocide and their descendants had to contend with the South African segregation project, Nama-speakers continually reinterpreted boundaries of race and ethnicity to organize against colonial violence and land dispossession. Their creative understandings of race and self-identification defied the logics of the South African system, and they challenge today’s scholarship on racial difference and African leadership under apartheid.

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