Image and Identity: Modelling the Emergence of a 'New' Rock Art Tradition in Southern Africa

Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art - Jan Magne Gjerde

Geoffrey Blundell [+-]
KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa
Geoffrey Blundell in Principal Curator of the Human Science Department, KwaZulu-Natal Museum, South Africa. His research interests include the use of rock art as a historical resource, rock art as resistance, and the politics of exhibiting archaeology. Ghilraen Laue is curator and rock art specialist in the Human Sciences Department of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Her research interests are in interpretation and regional differences in southern African San rock art.


Southern African research on rock art traditions that are not ”San” has tended to make linkages between the images and some putative ethnic identity. At best, these research efforts lean towards essentialism; at worst they end up making simplistic correlations between material culture and cultural identity. Scholars rarely attempt the complex issue of how image and identity are intertwined. By considering rock paintings that are different to “San” imagery from Nomansland in the south-eastern mountains of South Africa, and by situating those images within a historical context, I argue in this paper that it is possible to model the entanglement between image and identity for some parts of southern Africa at least.

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Blundell, Geoffrey . Image and Identity: Modelling the Emergence of a 'New' Rock Art Tradition in Southern Africa. Perspectives on Differences in Rock Art. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Nov 2020. ISBN 9781781795606. Date accessed: 16 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.31932. Nov 2020

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