The literacy of tracking : a comparative analysis of tracking within two Bushman post-hunter communities.
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Vast advances in technology have presented a platform for mediated forms to reach places where it was never before thought possible. Once remote communities can now be more easily accessed and in turn have easier access to modern ways of life. In light of this, Bushmen communities have been forced, due to a number of factors, to transform or adapt many their everyday cultural practices - one of which is tracking. Two Bushman post-hunter communities, the ≠Khomani from Witdraai in the Northern Cape of South Africa and the !Xoo who reside in Ngwatle in Southern Botswana, are the focus of a comparative analysis which assesses how the two communities use tracking, how they represent tracking and how they construct their identity through these representations. Louis Liebenberg’s extensive literature on the subject of tracking compounded with his groundbreaking research on CyberTracking provides an invaluable resource. It offers a contrasting scientific vantage point in comparison to J. Edward Chamberlin’s (2004) holistic anthropological approach to aboriginal cultures. Work central to demystifying the data includes debates within globalisation theory (Anthony Giddens 1990; David Held and Anthony McGrew 2000; Terhi Rantanen 2005), the homogenisation and heterogenisation of culture and Stuart Hall’s theory of essentialist and non-essentialist identity (1996). The data was obtained through research field trips to the areas in 2005 and 2007 respectively, and informs part of a larger project, Rethinking Indigeneity, headed by Professor Keyan G. Tomaselli. The subject communities contrast one another not only in how they represent themselves, but also how and why they practice tracking. The !Xoo, in comparison to the ≠Khomani, are less exposed to global media and as a result are considerably less aware of expectations attached to their ethnicity. This correlation provides an interesting link between cultural practices, remote communities and global media infiltration. It becomes apparent that culture is in a constant state of flux which is further emphasised through idiosyncratic cultural practices; in this case tracking.