Hunters and After Riders: A History of Hunting and the Making of Race in the Waterberg, 1840s-Present

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Hunters and After Riders: A History of Hunting and the Making of Race in the Waterberg, 1840s-Present

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This dissertation investigates the historical constitution of race through hunting, particularly the role of the unequal power of English and Afrikaner settler farmer archives in constituting the contested historical experiences and representations of black Africans in the complex ongoing struggles over the scarce resources (land, animals, cultural capital) of hunting in South Africa. It examines the historical problem of tenacious racial formations that have continued to pose challenges in the post-apartheid era and that have been reconstituted as development claims. Spanning a ‘long 20th century,’ this dissertation analyzes hunting narratives and policies from the 1840s into the post-apartheid present to show how they discursively produced social difference as racial through ordering hunting practices between black African/English/Afrikaner and their narration and representation. Identified early in the 19th century with conquest and exploration, and the gathering and construction of knowledge of Africa, hunting is one of the key spaces in which a white colonial imaginary was created. This was, and remains, an imaginary of heroism, superiority, and the ‘civilizing mission’, to which the narrative and imagery of hunting made a substantial contribution. Additionally, hunting serves as a barometer of African displacement, dispossession, and conscription through its association with control of land and resources. The concern here is with the consequences of accumulating discourses of hunting that figure black African practices, colonial and apartheid legacies, and modern/technologized developments in an increasingly globalized world determined by unequal relationships of social, economic, and political power. By interrogating the processes of (re)telling hunting’s histories in the Waterberg District, this dissertation gets at how hunting is intricately tied to the hierarchies and politics of South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past, as well as present attempts to overcome, or in some cases perpetuate, those legacies. Hunting serves as the opening through which to trace the complex consequences and negotiations of the ambiguity in the writing of history and in the writing and (de)construction of a history of hunting, in an attempt to figure answers to the social questions and problems posed to colonial and post-colonial governance by and through the making and persistence of race.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2018. Major: History. Advisors: Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, Allen Isaacman. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 409 pages.

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Vig, Paul. (2018). Hunters and After Riders: A History of Hunting and the Making of Race in the Waterberg, 1840s-Present. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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