In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

66 3 Return to the Kalahari, July–August 1913 Sunday 6th July Fine clear morning. Trekked from early till breakfast. Ouspanned in pretty parklike ground. The whole way from Legombe has been very pretty so far – with very fine trees. Long trek in morning – encamped in lovely spot – watered oxen. Still longer trek in afternoon.Reached Kakia long after dark.Stopped near village under fine Kamelthorn trees. Old Masarwa greeted us on entry – gave me tobacco and sugar. Hot day.1 Now that she had shown her rock art research to an international audience , it was time for Dorothea to return to the field. It must have been a bittersweet period for her, with the prospect of finding descendants of her father’s interlocutors and doing her own language fieldwork shadowed by the death of her mother in October 1909.2 Dorothea managed two trips in the months following her mother’s death: a short visit to the northern Cape in 1910, followed by a longer trip in 1911.3 She returned to Cape Town early in 1912, in time to welcome Lucy back from Germany to Charlton House, which her mother had bequeathed to the surviving Bleek daughters.4 Having completed the long process of readying a collection of notebook texts for publication in Specimens of Bushman Folklore, Lucy had left Charlottenburg and returned to Cape Town to set up home near her nieces. Dorothea could now pay serious attention to the notebooks and related material Lucy had brought back with her from Europe, and hone the language skills she would need to support her research plans.5 But this interlude of a warm sharing of knowledge was short-lived. Lloyd died at Charlton House on 31 August 1914. Dorothea was now alone in the Cape save for her sister Helma Bright and her family who lived at Somerset West, these days a mere thirty minutes by car from Cape Town.6 But the Brights shortly returned to live with Dorothea at Charlton House. In 1926, the Book 1.indb 66 10/12/15 10:57 AM R E T U R N TO T H E K A L A H A R I , J U LY – AU G U S T 1 9 1 3 67 family – including Dorothea, Helma, her husband and their two young daughters Marjorie and Dorothy – moved to La Rochelle, Newlands, an arrangement that was to last until Helma’s death in 1947.7 In the years following the move, Dorothea chose to concentrate on field expeditions aimed at language research. She may have decided to consolidate what she had learnt from Lucy. The La Rochelle years would prove to be a time of great productivity during which Dorothea would undertake extensive travel and language fieldwork among the Naron in South West Africa and travel as far as Angola, where she found ‘remnants of Bushman tribes’. She went to Tanganyika, where she was puzzled by the presence of a ‘tribe’ whose language and customs resembled that of the bushmen but who did not resemble the bushmen physically.8 She made several shorter visits to her friends the Ralstons, who farmed at Mount Temple in the Langeberg , a range of mountains in the northern Cape angling through regions in those years known as Gordonia, Griqualand West and Bushmanland. She also made her first trips to the Kalahari, which, as we have been, involved the collection of human remains, often from newly consecrated but also from older burial sites. Dorothea’s early language research in southern Africa can be understood in reference to her educational roots in Europe. Her schooling and tertiary education took place in the milieu of classical German philology, the formalisation of Ethnologie and anthropology, and interest in the Volksgeist tradition of Johann Gottfried Herder. While studying in London, she might have been interested in Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection and evolution, in the cultural evolutionary theories of Edward Burnett Tylor, and in the comparative studies of religion and myth of the prolific folklorist Andrew Lang. These strands were intertwined with her later scholarship and institutional attachments within the emerging South African academy. A close reading of Dorothea’s research notes suggests that her fieldwork was flavoured by Adolf Bastian’s ideas about Elementargedanke (elementary ideas), the theory that all human beings shared the same species-specific mental make-up and therefore the same ‘mind’. Bastian argued that elementary ideas were influenced by geographic location and historical background , and these...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.