Indigeneity and the Expert: Negotiating Identity in the Case of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Maria Maria Sapignoli

in Law and Anthropology

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199580910
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723025 | DOI:

Series: Current Legal Issues

 Indigeneity and the Expert: Negotiating Identity in the Case of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve

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This chapter examines the case of a group of Bushmen/San/Basarwa and Bakgalagadi/Bantu that for the first time in Botswana brought the national Government as respondent in front of the High Court of their State, claiming an indigenous identity and their right to go back to their ‘ancestral’ land, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR), after being relocated by the same Government. It explores the relationship between anthropology, law, and indigeneity, considering the central role that anthropology had in the case, as ‘expert witness’ and ‘factual witness’. The case itself is also considered as the subject of anthropological reflection and ethnographic enquiry. In the Court Case, different identities had to be negotiated. The chapter focuses on two: those of the Anthropologist; and the Bushmen, who have to mediate their identity amidst the expectations of the law, judges, NGOs, and their community. It shows how indigeneity was practiced inside the courtroom, and how the Bushmen and the Anthropologist were both compelled to assume identities and use language recognizable to national and international legal discourse. This Court Case raises questions about Bushman's identity, anthropological practice, and the context in which indigenous identities are articulated.

Keywords: law; anthropology; indigenous identity; Bushmen; Botswana

Chapter.  9585 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Law

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