Current research and curatorial projects

Current research work covers a broad spectrum of anthropological themes and issues concerning cultural patterns and identity formation among both indigenous and settler populations, and the historiography of processes of sedentarization among pastoralists and hunter-gatherers and their descendants.

Research on the formation of synthetic cultural patterns has been pursued through diasynchronic studies of the effects of missions, mines, government agencies, farms and urban/rural migration cycles on the development of reserve communities and other rural settlements and villages, especially in regard to the development of ethnic and class identities and the ways in which this is expressed in material terms in the context of the politics of similarity and difference. 

Long-term regional and community field studies in Namaqualand, southern Namibia and the Western Cape, literature studies of similar topics relating to the Americas, and collections research on hunter-gatherers and herders and other cultural entities in Africa and the Americas, have provided the ethnographic case material for research projects aimed at making meaningful contributions to the broader anthropological fields of inquiry into the nature of identity, politics and religion in the context of global cultural processes.

The following projects have been completed recently or are still in progress:

  • Locality and Cultural Identities in the Western and Northern Cape (2003–)
  • Missions and Social Identities in the Lower Orange River Basin, 1760–1998 (1997–2003)
  • Analyses of the Kling and Hoernlé Collections (1995–)
  • Cultural Patterns and Demography in Pella and Steinkopf (1992–)
  • Boundaries and Social Identity in Steinkopf and Namaqualand (1991–)
  • Mortuary practices in Namaqualand (1990–)
  • A Historical Perspective on Patterns of Settlement and Land Use in the Lower Orange River Basin (1983-1994)
    Mortuary practices in Vredendal (1984)
  • Southern Nguni Skin-working Technology (1983-1989)
    Poverty in Namaqualand (Research project for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa) (1983-1984)
  • The Damaras of Namaqualand (Research project for the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa) (1983-1984)
  • The Field Diaries of Agnes Winifred Hoernlé (1981-1987)
    Social Differentiation and Local Government in Pella, a Rural Coloured Area in Great Bushmanland (1979-1982)
    Ethnicity in Pella, Great Bushmanland (1978)
  • The Bosluis Settlements in the Richtersveld (1976-1977)

Contact details

Curator: Gerald Klinghardt

Tel: +27 (0)21 467 73836