The Bushman Myth: the Making of a Namibian Underclass by Robert J. Gordon

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Images of the Bushman—from the innocent hero of the hit movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy, to “vermin” eradicated by the colonists, to the superhuman trackers conscripted by the South African Defense Forces, and the living embodiment of prehistory for the academic—shape our perceptions rather than the actuality. Looking at this interplay between imagery, history, and policy, Robert Gordon focuses not on the Bushman but on the colonizers’ image of them and the consequences of that image for the people assumed to be Bushmen. To understand the image of the Bushmen, we must place them into the context from which they were abstracted.

The Bushman Myth, then, is a study of not only history but also of the sociology of knowledge as well as of the relationship between perceived role and economic class. Lavishly illustrated with archival and recent photographs, the book attempts to convey the extent to which we as Westerners have participated in the creation of the “Bushman” identity. This book with its poignant example of the Bushmen brings us face to face with the complexities and deceptions of our constructions of the “Other.”

Westview Press, 1992.
ISBN: 9780813313818. 304 pp.
Softcover. Near fine.
University stamp on half-title.