The KhoeSan & Partnership: Beyond Patriarchy & Violence

Muthien, Bernedette (2008-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2008.


This thesis contributes to existing literature on violent and peaceful societies generally, and more specifically contributes to debates on gender egalitarian societies within the fields of Peace, Gender and Indigenous Studies, by focusing on the KhoeSan, and KhoeSan women especially. This research project focused on two critically intersectional components: (1) reconstructing knowledge in general and reclaiming indigenous knowledge, from an African feminist perspective; and (2) analysing and reclaiming peaceful societies and the notion of nonviolence as a norm. Inextricably tied to these primary research questions, is the issue of gender, and gender egalitarianism, especially as it relates to women. An interdisciplinary, intersectional approach was used, combining the analytical lenses of the fields of Political Science (Peace Studies), Anthropology and Gender Studies, with some attention to cultures and spiritualities. The participatory methods employed include focus group discussions and unstructured interviews with KhoeSan community leaders, especially women elders. Concrete skills exchange with, and support for, the participating communities was consciously facilitated. Scholarship on, as well as practices of, the Khoesan evince normative nonviolence, as well as gender egalitarianism. These ancient norms and practices are still evident in modern KhoeSan oral history and practice. This thesis sets the following precedents, particularly through the standpoint of a female KhoeSan scholar: (a) contributing to the research on peaceful societies by offering an analysis of the KhoeSan’s nonviolence as a norm; (b) and extending scholarship on gender egalitarian societies to the KhoeSan. Further research in these intersecting areas would be invaluable, especially of peacefulness, social egalitarianism and collective leadership, as well as gender egalitarianism, among the KhoeSan. Broadening research to encompass Southern Africa as a region would significantly aid documentation.

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