When Bushmen are known as Basarwa: gender, ethnicity, and differentiation in rural Botswana

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15 Scopus citations


Recent scholarship on the Bushmen (San) and other hunter‐gatherers calls for an understanding of the way specific historical circumstances give rise to a variety of modes of livelihood and strategies of survival of groups. However, little attention has been paid to the analysis of cultural and political dimensions of this process. This article is concerned with a group of “Basarwa” (a Setswana equivalent to “Bushmen”) who have been permanent residents in a Tswana village in eastern Botswana since the turn of the century, and with the historical process that maintained those Basarwa in a position of marginality vis‐à‐vis their Tswana neighbors. I argue that to fully understand the continued marginality of the Basarwa in changing historical circumstances, one has to analyze the dynamic relations between the cultural definition of Sarwa identity and its material and social grounding in household reproduction. [Bushmen, hunter‐gatherers, ethnic formation, gender, rural differentiation, Botswana] 1994 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-563
Number of pages25
JournalAmerican Ethnologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology


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