Claim to the Country: The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek

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Jacana, 2007 - History - 388 pages
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2009 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title
A Library Journal “Editor’s Pick”



In the 1870s, facing cultural extinction and the death of their language, several San men and women told their stories to two pioneering colonial scholars at the Cape, Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd. The narratives of these San (or Bushmen) were of the land, the rain, the history of the first people, and the origin of the moon and stars. These narratives were faithfully recorded and translated by Bleek and Lloyd, creating an archive of more than 13,000 pages including drawings, notebooks, maps, and photographs. Now residing in three main institutions—the University of Cape Town, the South African Museum, and the National Library of South Africa—this archive has recently been entered into UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. 

Lavishly illustrated, Claim to the Country: The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek, created, compiled, and introduced by Pippa Skotnes, presents in book form and on an accompanying DVD all the notebook pages and drawings that comprise this remarkable archive. Contextualizing essays by well-known scholars, such as Nigel Penn, Eustacia Riley, and Anthony Traill, and a searchable index for all the narratives and contributors are included. 

Through this remarkable collection, we can better understand what it means that the people who lived in southern Africa long before any new arrivals settled the country no longer survive through their language or culture of intellectual traditions, but only as text on a page. The Bleek-Lloyd archive is the San’s surviving claim to the country.

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Claim to the country: the archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek

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Skotnes (director, Lucy Lloyd Archive Resource & Exhibition Ctr., Univ. of Cape Town) has created a dazzling work of archival reproduction and interpretation. At her institution and other South ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Pippa Skotnes is a professor of fine art and director of the Lucy Lloyd Archive, Resource and Exhibition Centre (LLAREC). She has published essays on the rock art of the San and is the author and editor of several books, including Sound from the Thinking Strings, Miscast: Negotiating the Presence of the Bushmen, and Heaven’s Things.

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