‘Knobkerrie’: Some Preliminary Notes on the Transformation of a Weapon into a Swagger Stick, or Sometimes a Stick is Not Just a Stick

Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Tribing and {Untribing} the {Archive}: {Set}, University of KwaZulu-Natal Press (2016)




The pernicious combination of tribe and tradition continues to tether modern South Africans to ideas about the region's remote past as primitive, timeless, and unchanging. Any hunger for knowledge or understanding of the past before European colonialism remains to a significant degree unsated in the face of a narrowly prescribed archive and repugnant, but insidiously resilient, stereotypes. These volumes track how the domain of the tribal and traditional came to be sharply distinguished from modernity, how it was denied a changing history and an archive, and was endowed instead with a timeless culture. They also offer strategies for engaging with the materials differently-from the interventions effected in contemporary artworks to the inserting of nameless, timeless objects of material culture into histories of individualized and politicized experience. The two volume set make this archive of material culture visible as an archival resource. They also seek to spring the identity trap, releasing the material from pre-assigned identity positions as tribal into settings that enable them to be used as resources for thinking critically about identity. [Subject: African Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Art History]

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