Birds and Blurred Boundaries: Communities of Practice and the Problem of Regions in San Rock Art
Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde
Ghilraen Laue [+]
Ghilraen Laue completed her PhD on regional difference in southern African rock art in 2019. She was previously a research officer at the Rock Art Research Institute, University of the Witwatersrand. She is currently Curator of Human Sciences (Special Collections) at the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa, where she is also deputy editor of Southern African Humanities, an interdisciplinary journal. Her research is focused on rock art and materiality, principally in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains and the Maloti-Drakensberg.
Regional differences in southern African San rock art have long been noted, but defining them has met with little success. The interpretative approach that has dominated research in the last four decades has focused on similarities across space and through time, rather than emphasising differences. This paper considers the question of regionality in rock art, and explores how the concepts of communities and constellations of practice can be used to reconceptualise regional differences. These two concepts are applied to motifs of flight and transformation in three areas of San rock art.