PhD defense: Rafaël Verbuyst (Faculty of Arts & Philosophy)



Public PhD defense of Rafaël Verbuyst: ‘Khoisan Consciousness. Articulating indigeneity in post-apartheid Cape Town’.

Friday 21 May, 2021  - 13h


This is a joint-PhD project between Ghent University (Belgium) and the University of the Western Cape (see abstract below). 


Please confirm via if you are interested in attending (parts of) the defense and the link to the digital meeting will be forwarded to you as soon as it is available.


“Decimated and dispossessed, the Khoisan of South Africa were assimilated alongside several others into the racial group ‘Coloured’ during colonialism and apartheid. Many no longer think of them as a distinct collective, particularly in urban settings, but an increasing number of people are identifying as Khoisan in the post-apartheid era. ‘Khoisan revivalism’ entails cultural performances and campaigns for socio-economic development and recognition. Many Khoisan revivalists also claim indigenous rights, traditional leadership titles and land. I draw primarily on longitudinal fieldwork in Cape Town to scrutinize Khoisan revivalism’s origins, appeal and political aspirations. I focus on the various ways historical events, figures and practices inform diverse articulations of Khoisan indigeneity. In practicing a form of “therapeutic history” (Niezen 2009), Khoisan revivalists are primarily seeking a relatable connection with the past and select sources, mediums and content accordingly. In simultaneously replicating, disregarding and appropriating colonial representations, Khoisan revivalists produce a ‘subversive authenticity’. Against the backdrop of the South African politics of indigeneity, Khoisan revivalism not only embodies an empowering potential, but also poses a range of conundrums in the realm of entitlement claims.”