Book Chapter #3- The Politics of the Past: Evolving Ethnic Cultural Identities in African Traditional Governance Systems






Abstract chpt#3:   This chapter illustrates the socio-political nuances that often characterize communal identity and affi liation in African localities and are likely to affect sustainable conservation and management of community heritage. The case study illuminates on the fluidity of community identity, and how the seemingly basic ethnic community set up more often hosts and represents historical deposits of internal cultural production that have a bearing on cultural identity consumption in the present.To illustrate on the various factors that contribute to the evolution of communal cultural identities, the chapter uses a case study of Shoshong village communities of Baphaleng and Bakaa in Botswana, who are challenging traditional governance (chieftaincy) assertions that threaten their communal cultural identity in the village.

Because ‘…autochthonous ethnicities are always embedded in specifi c historical, political and cultural contexts, in which the institutional arrangements of “the state” fi gure prominently’ (Zenker 2011 : 74), the sections below outline the settlement and contact histories of Baphaleng, Bakaa and Bangwato to place the discussions on contested communal heritage identity into context. – pg 71

Keywords:      Politics of belonging • Settlement histories • Dormant identities •Evolving identities • Indigeneity • Autochthony • Baphaleng • Bakaa
• Chieftaincy • Shoshong village • Stakeholders • central Botswana




Dr Susan O. Keitumetse competed for and won two separate Commonwealth scholarships both to University of Cambridge, UK , where she pursued MPhil (Archaeological Heritage Management and Museums) and later on PhD (African cultural heritage and Sustainable Development). Before she had obtained a BA degree (Archaeology and Environmental Sciences) and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Geography and History) from the University of Botswana. During her post-graduate studies, she combined both environmental science and archaeology disciplines to venture into the broader cultural and heritage management studies with a particular focus on sustainable development and cultural heritage management at the department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. With a view to catalyze a linkage between environment and cultural heritage in Africa, Dr Keitumetse conducted various researches and published works that illustrate the relevance of cultural and heritage resources for the broader environmental conservation. She works at the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute as a researcher in cultural heritage and tourism where she undertakes applied research in areas such as the Okavango inland Delta World Heritage Site and Kalahari areas. Of particular note is her developing conservation model of Community-Based Cultural Heritage Resources Management (COBACHREM) to guide local communities and practitioners’ initiatives towards sustainable use of cultural heritage resources for social development. Dr Keitumetse is an associate editor of the journal Environment, Development, and Sustainability published by Springer. She also sits in the editorial board of the international journal of community archaeology and heritage, published by Taylor and Francis, as well as the International Journal of Heritage and Sustainable Development published by Green Lines Institute, Portugal. Dr Keitumetse has both national and international experience from across the world. She has won academic grants for research fellowships in international institutions that include; the Rockefeller Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA; the Watson Scholar Fellowship at Brown University in Rhode Island, USA and the Wenner-Gren Foundation research grant for research on ‘historical archaeology of marginal landscapes of eastern Botswana’. Outside academia and in international development Dr Keitumetse has worked and continues to work with institutions such as UNESCO as an expert advisor, examiner, facilitator, and consultant within the intangible cultural heritage section. She has corporate governance experience from African government parastatal institution dealing with environment, heritage, tourism and land use planning. These are derived from her tenure as a board director of Botswana Tourism Organisation for six years, where she also chaired a quality assurance committee of the board dealing with grading and certifying tourism accommodation. Her overall research interests are in the areas of sustainable development and cultural heritage conservation; historical archaeology; community heritage management; communal cultural identities; heritage tourism; heritage and protected areas; international management of cultural heritage; amongst others. Dr Susan Keitumetse has published extensively in the field of cultural heritage conservation and management in Africa, Her works comprise of peer-reviewed articles in international journals; peer-reviewed book chapters; refereed conference proceedings; and technical reports in international periodicals, magazines and newspapers. These can be accessed through search engines such as Google Scholar and LinkedIn. *********************************************************************************************

One Response to Book Chapter #3- The Politics of the Past: Evolving Ethnic Cultural Identities in African Traditional Governance Systems

  1. “Case studies like those of Shoshong illustrate that by reverting to the dichotomy
    of ethnic superiority/inferiority and subject-ruler dichotomies in the face of democracy
    and human rights, the paramount chieftaincy ( dikgosi ) institution is squandering
    its relevance and deteriorating its status as communal cultural custodians who
    act as default middle managers of cultural heritage in rural localities.” – pg83


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