A conference to celebrate 100 years of the publication of Specimens of Bushman folklore by WHI Bleek and LC Lloyd 17-20 August 2011 University of Cape Town, Hiddingh Hall Campus.

The conference was organised by Professor Pippa Skotnes of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town and Janette Deacon, Honorary Research Associate of the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand, assisted by Thomas Cartwright.

In 1911, an extraordinary book was published by George Allen and Company, London. It was edited by Lucy Lloyd and contained a small selection of the many thousands of pages of |xam and !kun texts that she and Wilhelm Bleek recorded in the 1870s and 1880s in Cape Town, South Africa. The book was titled Specimens of Bushman folklore and was dedicated to ‘all faithful workers’. In many ways it owes its existence to the courage of ||kabbo, a prisoner released from the Breakwater Convict Station, who sacrificed the freedom of his final years to teach Bleek and Lloyd his language. To commemorate the publication of this remarkable work we an invitation waas circulated to those who have been inspired by the book and the|xam and !kun texts it contains, to those who have researched and made use of the Lloyd and Bleek archive and to those whose work, cognate though not directly related to this book, reflects the same spirit of research that has given a voice to ideas that would otherwise have remained unknown.

We are currently planning a publication for late 2012 that will reflect both the diversity and spirit of the conference, with some full-length papers and some shorter papers.

Listen to Derek Gripper’s guitar performance – Spore by die bek van ‘n ystervarkgat, performed during the conference’s spectacular sit-down supper in Hiddingh Hall.
Read conference abstracts

Conference Programme:

Wednesday 17 August HIDDINGH HALL

16:00-18:00 Registration

18:00-18:30 Welcome by Pippa Skotnes and Janette Deacon

18:30-20:30 UCT Choir Stories: readings and performances Finger supper

Thursday 18 August HIDDINGH HALL

08:30-10:30 Papers and discussion (Chair: Janette Deacon)

– Carolyn Hamilton: The life of the archive

– Isabel Hofmeyr: Archives in heaven

– David Lewis-Williams: The impact of the Bleek and Lloyd collection on southern African rock art research

– Mathias Guenther: Dreams and stories

10:30-11:00 Tea

11:00-13:30 Papers and discussion (Chair: Pippa Skotnes)

– Hedley Twidle: From ‘The origin of language’ to a language of origin: a prologue to the Grey Collection

– Robert Thornton: Bleek, ||kabbo, and the debate about the origin of language

– Nigel Penn: Child captives, ‘Bushman labour’ and the destruction of the Cape San

– Sam Challis: Bushman herders of the Drakensberg: mixed raider-pastoralists in the 19th century

– José Manuel de Prada: ‘The pictures of the |xam people are in their bodies': presentiments, landscape and rock art in ||kabbo’s country

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:15 Papers and discussion (Chair: Carmel Schrire)

– Jeremy Hollman: |kaggen’s code: paintings of moths in southern African hunter-gatherer rock art

– David Morris: The place of oral literature and ethnography in the re-membering of a Northern Cape rock art site

– Siyakha Mguni: The meerkats and |kaggen’s arrows of fury: metaphors of sociality and antagonism in the southern San mythology and paintings

– Ben Smith: The porcupine’s father: |xam stories and non-San rock art

16:15-16:45 Tea 16:45-18:00 General discussion (Chair: Carmel Schrire)

18:30-20:00 MICHAELIS GALLERY Exhibition opening and book launch Finger supper at Michaelis Gallery

19:00-20:30 Stories: readings and performances (Old Medical School Lecture Theatre)

Friday 19 August HIDDINGH HALL

08:30-10:30 Papers and discussion (Chair: Irene Staehelin)

– Megan Biesele: ||kabbo’s legacy: San heritage conservation and language development today

– Menán du Plessis: One hundred years of the Specimens – a hundred years of academic neglect

– Robyn Loughnane/Tom Güldemann: The Bleek and Lloyd collection: ||kabbo’s linguistic legacy

– Nigel Crawhall: Understanding the !Ui-Taa language family’s sociolinguistic history in South Africa: putting the |xam informants in context.

10:30-11:00 Tea 11:00-12:00 Short presentations and discussion (Chair: Carolyn Hamilton)

– Roger Chennels: Twenty years of (being part of) the San human rights revival in southern Africa

– Jobe Gabototwe: The |xam and the San youth of today

– Mary Lange, Shanade Barnabas & Miliswa Magongo: Storytelling and engravings, past and present: Biesje Poort, Northern Cape

12:00-13:00 Short presentations and discussion (Chair: Carolyn Hamilton)

– Andrew Lamprecht: Wilhelm Bleek’s Reynard the Fox in South Africa and its methodological basis: a precursor to the Specimens

– Michael Wessels: The first |xam man brings home a young lion: the story of a narrative

– Helize van Vuuren: “Does the ||gárraken flower open?”: postcolonial approaches to the extinct |xam culture

– Adrien Delmas: G. McCall Theal and the writing of an introduction to Bleek and Lloyd

– Hermann Wittenberg: On narrative, culture and colonial censorship: the story of ||kabbo and “Reynard the Fox”

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 Short presentations and discussion (Chair: Mark Fleishman)

– Jill Weintroub: The rock art and linguistic researches of Dorothea Bleek

– Marlene Winberg: Silent children of the archive: reading Lucy Lloyd and the !kun boys’ visual archive (1879-1881)

– Florian Lionnet: Lucy Lloyd’s !xun notebooks: towards an edition and linguistic analysis

– Tanya Barben: Gathering wisdom: re-assembling Wilhelm Bleek’s library

15:00-15:30 Tea

15:30-17:00 Discussion: Future directions – |xam and San oral literatures, testimonies and traditions (Chairs: Anne Solomon & Duncan Brown)

17:00-18:30 (Old Medical School lecture theatre) Stories: readings and performances Melissa Heckler |kunta Boo: a contemporary Ju/’hoan family storytelling perfomance

19:30-22:30 Sit-down supper in Hiddingh Hall Music & presentations

Saturday 20 August Iziko SA Museum

09:30-11:30 Papers and discussion (Chair: Patricia Davison)

– Janette Deacon: The landscape of the |xam

– Sven Ouzman: Bushman specimens: the hidden lives of objects

– Chris Low: Locating |xam beliefs and practices in a contemporary KhoeSan context

– Anne Solomon: ‘People who are different': alterity and the /Xam texts

11:30-12:00 Sandwiches and juice

12:00-12:30 Exhibition walkabout (Pippa Skotnes and Petro Keene)

12:30-13:30 David Block: Shrouds of the night (public lecture)

13:30-17:00 Films by Richard Wicksteed and Hugh Brody