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May 22 , 2008

The Tswana


First published in 1953 and this edition in 1991, this book was created in association with the International African Institute. Since its first publication, anthropology and African Studies have changed a great deal, but the bedrock of both remains unchanged: solid, sensitive ethnographic and historical accounts of the peoples and cultures of the continent.

Part One is by Isaac Schapera whose documentation of life and times in the Bechuanaland Protectorate stands as a starkly detailed chronical of an African population in a rapidly changing world. Schapera was one of the few anthropologists who spoke frankly of the rural predicament of rural Africans under colonialism. Far from describing the Tswana as a closed or timeless ‘society’, he locates the people in their political and economic context, and in so doing, has left behind an extraordinary record.

This edition of The Tswana consists of the original text to which has been added a second part by John L. Comaroff, which covers the transformation of Tswana life in Botswana and South Africa 1953-85, plus a much enlarged bibliography. Together, the parts of the book make a valuable summary of an exceedingly rich and ethnographic and historical record that will continue to serve as an indispensable tool in research and teaching.

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