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Subject Disobedience: The Colonial Narrative and Native Counterworks in Northwestern Namibia, c.1920-1975

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This article concentrates on the ambiguities and contradictions in the colonial archive on North West Namibia (a region also known as Kaokoland), and on the way these were exploited by the "stubborn traditionalists" inhabiting it. Its aim is to place the emergence of postcolonial identities and subjectivities in the region in an historical perspective. To do so, it takes a look at the depoliticized discourse on livestock and development in which South West African rule framed its politics of identity. This case study investigates how precisely this discourse fuelled political resistance in the region. However, the efforts by elders and so-called commoners to counter indirect rule and apartheid hardly ever took the form of overt rebellion or explicit political protest. It concerned instead a more subtle and defiant form of counterworks, a very specific local modernity rooted in local subjectivity and experience that happened to be quite efficient.
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Keywords: Apartheid; Himba (Herero); Livestock; Resistance; Subjectivity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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