Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship

Author(s):
  • Publication Date: February 2016
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 153 mm; 288 pp; Illustrated
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-86814-879-0
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-86814-880-6 (North and South America, China); 978-1-86814-881-3 (Rest of world)
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-86814-882-0
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 320.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 34.95

“The book makes for fascinating reading. It eschews academic jargon,
reads well and will be of interest to a general educated readership.”
Michael Wessels, author of Bushman Letters: Interpreting /Xam
Narratives
(2010)

“A magnificent contribution to the broader understanding of the Bleek
and Lloyd archive, both in so far as Dorothea’s own work is a part of it,
and as she shepherded her father and her aunt’s work into the future
in which it has become so valued.”
Pippa Skotnes, artist, curator and author of Claim to the Country: the
archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek
(2007)

Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the
‘bushman researches’ that her father and aunt had begun in the closing
decades of the nineteenth century. This research was partly a labour of
familial loyalty to Wilhelm, the acclaimed linguist and language scholar
of nineteenth-century Germany and later of the Cape Colony, and to
Lucy Lloyd, a self-taught linguist and scholar of bushman languages
and folklore; but it was also an expression of Dorothea’s commitment
to a particular kind of scholarship and an intellectual milieu that saw
her spending her entire adult life in the study of the people she called
‘bushmen’.
How has history treated Dorothea Bleek? Has she been recognised
as a scholar in her own right, or as someone who merely followed in
the footsteps of her famous father and aunt? Was she an adventurer,
a woman who travelled across southern Africa driven by intellectual
curiosity to learn all she could about the bushmen? Or was she
conservative, a researcher who belittled the people she studied and
dismissed them as lazy and improvident?
These are some of the questions with which Jill Weintroub starts
her thoughtful biography of Dorothea Bleek. The book examines
Dorothea Bleek’s life story and family legacy, her rock art research and
her fieldwork in southern Africa, and, in light of these, evaluates her
scholarship and contribution to the history of ideas in South Africa. The
compelling and surprising narrative reveals an intellectual inheritance
intertwined with the story of a woman’s life, and argues that Dorothea’s
life work – her study of the bushmen – was also a sometimes surprising
emotional quest.

Introduction: Re-visiting the life and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek
Chapter 1: Colonial childhood, European learning
Chapter 2: Tracing rock art in the field with Helen Tongue, 1905 to 1907
Chapter 3: Return to the Kalahari, July to August 1913
Chapter 4: Ambiguities of Interaction: Sandfontein, Angola and Tanganyika, 1920 to 1930
Chapter 5: Testimony of the rocks: A “cave journey”, 1928 to 1932
Chapter 6: Intimacy and marginality in rock art recording 1932-1940
Chapter 7: Making the Bushman Dictionary, 1934 to 1956

Dr Jill Weintroub has spent the past decade focusing on the biography and scholarship of Dorothea Bleek.
She is Research Fellow at the Rock Art Research Institute at Wits University.

“The book makes for fascinating reading. It eschews academic jargon, reads well and will be of interest to a general educated readership.”
Michael Wessels, author of Bushman Letters: Interpreting /Xam Narratives (2010)
“A magnificent contribution to the broader understanding of the Bleek and Lloyd archive, both in so far as Dorothea’s own work is a part of it,
and as she shepherded her father and her aunt’s work into the future in which it has become so valued.”
Pippa Skotnes, artist, curator and author of Claim to the Country: the archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek (2007)

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