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Article

Iron Age archaeological research in Zimbabwe and surrounds has shifted from traditional concerns with culture histories and reconstruction of the sociopolitical and economic organization. Archaeologists have become concerned with a wider range of issues such as ritual, the meanings of material culture as well as the ideological backgrounds and contexts within which societies produced and reproduced themselves, and how archaeological invisibles may inform different aspects of the organization and development of past cultures. The quest to read more into the material remains from the past in context, beyond their materiality, was the inspiration behind the development of ethnoarchaeology. It is against this backdrop that the study of faunal remains from Iron Age sites in southern Africa, particularly those of cattle, has been shifting from analysis and interpretation of the bones, from a subsistence-economic-organization point of view, to attempts to read more from this class of archaeological data. Here, the contemporary Bantu cattle-keeping societies have been the subject of studies aimed at gathering data that may be usable in engaging with the bone remains from archaeological sites. The ethnoarchaeological approaches have initiated a new methodological dimension to the study of faunal remains. Gender studies have been one of the most important areas of concern in archaeology over the past five decades. In this regard, cattle-based ethnoarchaeological studies in southern Africa have opened opportunities for alternative ways of thinking about cattle ownership and sociopolitical organization and development in the past. Here, the traditional perceptions and interpretations of cattle as an exclusively male domain have been questioned as it has emerged that women would in fact have been active players in the cattle world. Within the context of the archaeological interest in ritual, ethnoarchaeological studies have also been informative from various dimensions where indications are that the cattle-bone remains that are recovered from archaeological sites could have resulted from a variety of ritual activities, rather than food alone. Ultimately, such ethnoarchaeological studies in the region have persuaded archaeologists to begin to think about cattle bones beyond the obvious.

Article

The first sub-Saharan colony to obtain independence in 1957, Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana offered shelter and aid to liberation movements from all over the continent. Between 1957 and 1966, hundreds of political activists, refugees, and leaders were hosted in the country. The Ghanaian government offered them financial and political assistance and also provided military training for those involved in armed struggles. As one of the key figures of pan-Africanism, Kwame Nkrumah (1909–1972) actively campaigned for African unity while supporting the independence struggles of African liberation movements. A crucial goal for Nkrumah’s government was to influence African nationalist parties ideologically in order to create a coalition of pan-Africanist movements through which to give birth to the United States of Africa. This political work served to spread Nkrumaism, the ideology crafted by Nkrumah with the aid of the Trinidadian pan-Africanist George Padmore (1903–1959), from Ghana to the rest of the continent. Nkrumah considered the assistance to Southern African liberation movements crucial, especially when, after 1960, the front of African liberation shifted increasingly toward the south. Activists and political refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Nyasaland (Malawi), Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Swaziland (eSwatini), Basutoland (Lesotho), Bechuanaland (Botswana), South West Africa (Namibia), and South Africa visited and resided in Ghana between 1957 and 1966, using Accra as one of their headquarters for their independence struggles. There, many liberation movements could intermingle, create synergies, exchange ideas, and absorb the knowledge that Ghana could offer. The impact of Nkrumah’s influence was often profound and, even if no liberation movement defined itself as Nkrumaist, many adopted and adapted solutions taken from Nkrumah’s Ghana.

Article

C.J.C. Reason

Southern Africa extends from the equator to about 34°S and is essentially a narrow, peninsular land mass bordered to its south, west, and east by oceans. Its termination in the mid-ocean subtropics has important consequences for regional climate, since it allows the strongest western boundary current in the world ocean (warm Agulhas Current) to be in close proximity to an intense eastern boundary upwelling current (cold Benguela Current). Unlike other western boundary currents, the Agulhas retroflects south of the land mass and flows back into the South Indian Ocean, thereby leading to a large area of anomalously warm water south of South Africa which may influence storm development over the southern part of the land mass. Two other unique regional ocean features imprint on the climate of southern Africa—the Angola-Benguela Frontal Zone (ABFZ) and the Seychelles-Chagos thermocline ridge (SCTR). The former is important for the development of Benguela Niños and flood events over southwestern Africa, while the SCTR influences Madden-Julian Oscillation and tropical cyclone activity in the western Indian Ocean. In addition to South Atlantic and South Indian Ocean influences, there are climatic implications of the neighboring Southern Ocean. Along with Benguela Niños, the southern African climate is strongly impacted by ENSO and to lesser extent by the Southern Annular Mode (SAM) and sea-surface temperature (SST) dipole events in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans. The regional land–sea distribution leads to a highly variable climate on a range of scales that is still not well understood due to its complexity and its sensitivity to a number of different drivers. Strong and variable gradients in surface characteristics exist not only in the neighboring oceans but also in several aspects of the land mass, and these all influence the regional climate and its interactions with climate modes of variability. Much of the interior of southern Africa consists of a plateau 1 to 1.5 km high and a narrow coastal belt that is particularly mountainous in South Africa, leading to sharp topographic gradients. The topography is able to influence the track and development of many weather systems, leading to marked gradients in rainfall and vegetation across southern Africa. The presence of the large island of Madagascar, itself a region of strong topographic and rainfall gradients, has consequences for the climate of the mainland by reducing the impact of the moist trade winds on the Mozambique coast and the likelihood of tropical cyclone landfall there. It is also likely that at least some of the relativity aridity of the Limpopo region in northern South Africa/southern Zimbabwe results from the location of Madagascar in the southwestern Indian Ocean. While leading to challenges in understanding its climate variability and change, the complex geography of southern Africa offers a very useful test bed for improving the global models used in many institutions for climate prediction. Thus, research into the relative shortcomings of the models in the southern African region may lead not only to better understanding of southern African climate but also to enhanced capability to predict climate globally.

Article

Quaternary paleoclimate reconstructions in tropical-subtropical southern Africa (taken here as approximately south of latitude 17oS) require both knowledge of the key relevant elements of the atmospheric and climate systems over the subcontinent and a realistic assessment of the possibilities and limitations of the proxy data sources in the region. Direct insolation forcing and southern hemisphere ocean temperature changes are widely considered as key drivers of temporal and spatial changes in the relative influence of different components of the circulation system (tropical Indian ocean monsoon, tropical Atlantic moisture, and temperate westerlies) that in turn drive precipitation distributions, amounts, and seasonality. Major debates in recent decades have focused on the timing and extent of aridity/humidity shifts, and the relative contribution of temperate and tropical sources of precipitation during the last ca. 100 ka, notably at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and during the Holocene climate optimum. Many of the debates and uncertainties that have emerged are also a function of proxy data sources: where they are located, how they are interpreted, and their resolution. Extrapolation of data from marine core and high-resolution terrestrial records to subregions where proxies are sparse, low resolution, or difficult to transform from environmental to climatic signals, might oversimply representation of the spatial variability of past climates in a region where variability is a norm today. For example, difficulties can occur in the southern African interior, where reliable climate proxies have been limited and where available proxies provide reconstructions of physical changes in landscape systems that can prove difficult to translate to high precision hydrological and rainfall records. Elsewhere, where new proxies have been emerging, such as data from hyrax middens and developments in interpreting palynological and isotope records, notable advances have been occurring, leading to the reanalysis of hydrological fluxes in the last 50 ka, including the development of records with high temporal resolution. In this article some of the key issues surrounding the Quaternary climates of southern Africa are considered, focusing on debates regarding the principal drivers of climate changes, the utility of different proxy data sources, and the temporal and spatial extent of past climate changes.

Article

Pastoralist societies arose in the arid and semi-arid western regions of southern Africa over the last 2000 years. These were both Bantu-speaking and Khoekhoe-speaking groups who practiced diverse combinations of carnivorous and milch pastoralism but also maintained some dependence on hunting and gathering, with varying but generally minimal reliance on agriculture. Historical sources provide many insights into pastoral culture and husbandry practices, but archaeological and ethnographic evidence is critical to the understanding of precolonial pastoralism. Most research has concentrated on the Cape Khoen, but increasingly, a broader view has come to include archaeological and ethnographic evidence from other parts of the region, casting new light on the origins and growth of pastoralism in southern Africa.

Article

Paloma de la Peña

The Howiesons Poort is a technological tradition within the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. This technological tradition shows different characteristics, technical and symbolic (the engraving of ostrich eggshell containers, the appearance of engraved ochre, formal bone tool technology, compound adhesives for hafting and a great variability in hunting techniques), which only developed in an extensive manner much later in other parts of the world. Therefore, the African Middle Stone Age through the material of the Howiesons Poort holds some of the oldest symbolic and complex technologies documented in prehistory. For some researchers, the Howiesons Poort still represents an unusual and ephemeral technological development within the Middle Stone Age, probably related to environmental stress, and as such there are numerous hypotheses for it as an environmental adaptation, whereas for others, on the contrary, it implies that complex cognition, deduced from the elaborated technology and symbolic expressions, was fully developed in the Middle Stone Age.

Article

Southern Africa has a long and rich archaeological record, ranging from the Oldowan lithics in the Sterkfontein valley and Wonderwerk Cave (about 2 Ma) to Iron Age smelting (less than one thousand years ago) in Zimbabwe. A brief overview of charcoal analyses indicates applications in such areas as dating, vegetation and climate reconstructions, fuel use, medicinal use, and the interpretation of human behavior. Some of the research done in the 20th century mainly focused on charcoal for the purpose of dating, but this has diversified in the 21st century to include other applications. The focus is on South African sites, but research from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe is included. Southern Africa has a very diverse woody component with more than fifteen hundred species from a flora of more than twenty-five thousand species so the establishment of regional modern reference collections of charcoalified woods has been instrumental in improving identifications of the archaeological taxa. Early Middle Stone Age charcoal records show that a diversity of woody species was burned. By Middle Stone Age times, records show the selection of woods for fuel, tinder, and medicinal use as well as cooking of starchy rhizomes. Late Stone Age and Iron Age records, in addition, show the use of woods for smelting and intense fires.

Article

Archaeological engagements with historic Christian mission stations have increased significantly since the late 1990s, but in joining the established dialogue between historians and anthropologists about mission pasts in southern Africa, the distinctive contribution offered by archaeological approaches has not always been recognized. Interdisciplinary conversations have at times focused on excavation, archaeology’s most distinctive method, and the material evidence this uncovers, without recognizing the distinctive ways of thinking and working that archaeologists have developed to understand the past on the basis of its material traces. Through an engagement with the material world as it exists in the present, archaeologists develop understandings of the past that form the basis of new narratives. This is a form of engagement shared with others, including local and family historians, and on which many people’s engagements with museums and heritage sites are based, including a number of museums and heritage sites based in and around historic mission sites in southern Africa. Engaging the traces and remains of missionary pasts in this way, whether through places, artifacts, images, or texts, has the potential to reveal traces of ways of acting, thinking, and being that were not recognized or understood within the textual sources upon which many early 21st-century understandings of southern Africa’s missionary past have been built. This form of engagement, overlapping as it does with the projects of enthusiasts and nonprofessional scholars, has the potential to generate new stories that can become the basis of new interpretations at heritage sites and museums. As places that were not the exclusive preserve of any single racial or ethnic group, Christian missions have the potential to allow stories to be told that include a range of forms of historical engagement, from displacement and refuge, to slavery and emancipation in the Cape, from collaboration and conflict in the face of expanding colonial frontiers, to tension, negotiation, and compromise between missionaries and African leaders both within, and beyond, formal colonial boundaries. Missionary pasts exemplify histories of racial mixing as well as segregation, and provide a glimpse into the multiple ways in which a range of future-oriented political and religious projects were imagined and manifested, but also frequently failed. Christian missions are boundary objects, with the potential to constitute borderlands where a range of academic disciplines, but also nonacademic projects, can come together to develop new ways of making sense of the past in as yet undetermined and potentially transformative ways. In an expansive and globally comparative mode, the archaeology of Christian missions has the potential to illuminate some of the ways in which Christianity itself has been remade in southern Africa, but also remade as southern African, since the early 19th century.

Article

English in the U.S. South contains a wide range of variation, encompassing ethnic, social class, and subregional variations all within the umbrella term of Southern English. Although it has been a socially distinct variety since at least the mid-19th century, many of the modern features it is nationally known for developed only after 1875. Lexical variation has long distinguished the U.S. South, but new vocabulary has replaced the old, and subregional variation in the U.S. South is no longer important for lexical variation. Social class still plays an important role in grammatical variation, but the rise of compulsory education limited previously wider ranges of dialect features. Despite traditional scholarship’s primary focus on lexical and grammatical language variation in the U.S. South, phonological variation has been the main area of scholarship since 1990s. Within phonological variation, the production of vowels, the most socially salient features of the U.S. South, has been a heavily studied realm of scholarship. Prosodic, consonant, and perception studies have been on the rise and have provided numerous insights into this highly diverse dialect region.

Article

Francesco Montinaro and Cristian Capelli

Southern Africa’s past is constellated by a series of demographic events tracing back to the dawn of our species, approximately 300,000 years ago. The intricate pattern of population movements over the millennia contributed to creating an exceptional level of diversity, which is reflected by the high degree of genomic variability of southern African groups. Although a complete characterization of the demographic history of the subcontinent is still lacking, several decades of extensive research have contributed to shed light on the main events. Genetic and archaeological researches suggest that modern humans may have emerged as the result of admixture between different African groups, possibly including other Homo populations, challenging the common view of a unique origin of our species. Although details are still unknown, surveys suggest that long term resident populations (related to Khoe-San speakers) of the subcontinent may have emerged hundreds of thousand years ago, and have inhabited the area for at least five millennia. Population movements, and the introduction of new cultural features, characterize the history of southern Africa over the last five millennia and have had a dramatic impact on subcontinental genetic variability. Traces of these migrations can be identified using different genetic systems, revealing a complex history of adaptation to new selective pressures and sex-biased admixture. The historical events of the European colonization and the slave trade of the last millennium, and the emergence of new cultural groups, further increased the genomic variability of human populations in this region, one of the most genetically diverse in the world.

Article

Carla Klehm

The prehistory of Botswana concerns the sophisticated environmental knowledge, economic strategies, and social networks of the hunter-gatherer, pastoralists, and agropastoralist communities that have called Botswana home. Diverse subsistence strategies and societal structures ranging from heterarchical to hierarchical have coincided and responded flexibly to climate and environmental variables. Botswana has also played a central, but often overlooked, role in precolonial trade within the interior of Africa and across the Indian Ocean. Botswana contains well-preserved archaeological records for the Middle Stone Age, Late Stone Age, and Iron Age periods, including one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world at Tsodilo Hills. The prehistory of Botswana extends over 100,000 years and includes successful, innovative, and adaptive occupations in a wide variety of environmental zones, from the Okavango Delta to the Kalahari sandveld, and better-watered hardveld areas in the east. Stone Age peoples adapted to both arid and wet lands, and the archaeological record includes early evidence for freshwater fish exploitation. Hunting with bone points dates to 35,000 years ago, with additional evidence for poisonous, reversible arrowheads between 21,000 and 30,000 years ago. Evidence for ritualized behavior through rock paintings, rock carvings, and the intentional destruction and abandonment of stone tools at Tsodilo Hills provides further insights to the social dimensions of early peoples. In the Iron Age, hunter-gatherer communities and agropastoralists participated in a regional and later protoglobal trade across the Indian Ocean for a thousand years before European involvement; as the regional economy intensified, large polities such as Bosutswe and even kingdoms such as the Butua state emerged, controlling access to resources such as game, ivory, salt, specularite, and gold. In the modern era, the historical archaeology of sites such as Old Palapye (Phalatswe) provide additional insight to historical documents that can contradict Eurocentric understandings of Botswana’s past.

Article

Richard Roberts

Horses are not native to southern Africa. They were introduced there by European settlers, principally the Dutch, who brought them to their new base at Cape Town in 1653. Although keeping horses was constrained by diseases against which the animals had no immunity, notably African horse sickness, equine piroplasmosis, and trypanosomiasis, horses played a crucial role in facilitating European expansion into the southern African interior. Horses were not, however, always under European control. In several instances, Indigenous populations, often of creolized descent, used them to maintain raiding, hunting, and pastoralist lifestyles of their own. Along with the Korana in central South Africa and the Oorlam and Herero in Namibia, the best-documented of these groups were the AmaTola “Bushmen,” who operated in the Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains of highland Lesotho in the mid-19th century. Subsequently, horses were a crucial resource to both British and Afrikaner forces during the Second South African War (1899–1902), a conflict that helped encourage a more favorable view of the animals used in warfare, and in later 20th-century counterinsurgency operations. Additionally, from the moment of their introduction to the region and continuing right through the apartheid era, horses were significant in delineating and reinforcing distinctions of class, race, and wealth via restrictions on who could ride, keep, or race them, as well as through the rearing and creation of specific breeds with specific ethnic or social associations.

Article

Koen Bostoen

The Bantu Expansion stands for the concurrent dispersal of Bantu languages and Bantu-speaking people from an ancestral homeland situated in the Grassfields region in the borderland between current-day Nigeria and Cameroon. During their initial migration across most of Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa, which took place between approximately 5,000 and 1,500 years ago, Bantu speech communities not only introduced new languages in the areas where they immigrated but also new lifestyles, in which initially technological innovations such as pottery making and the use of large stone tools played an important role as did subsequently also farming and metallurgy. Wherever early Bantu speakers started to develop a sedentary way of life, they left an archaeologically visible culture. Once settled, Bantu-speaking newcomers strongly interacted with autochthonous hunter-gatherers, as is still visible in the gene pool and/or the languages of certain present-day Bantu speech communities. The driving forces behind what is the principal linguistic, cultural, and demographic process in Late Holocene Africa are still a matter of debate, but it is increasingly accepted that the climate-induced destruction of the rainforest in West Central Africa around 2,500 years ago gave a boost to the Bantu Expansion.

Article

Clinton Gahwiler, Lee Hill, and Valérie Grand’Maison

Since the 1970s, significant growth globally has occurred in the related fields of sport, exercise, and performance psychology. In Southern Africa, however, this growth has occurred unevenly and, other than isolated pockets of interest, there has been little teaching, research, or practice. South Africa is an exception, however, even during the years of apartheid. A number of international sport psychology pioneers in fact visited South Africa during the 1970s on sponsored trips. Virtually all this activity took place in the economically advantaged sectors of the country, and it is only since the end of apartheid in 1994 that applied services have been extended to the economically disadvantaged areas through both government and private funding. The 2010s have also seen a growing awareness in other Southern African countries, which have begun sporadically using (mainly foreign-based) sport psychology consultants. Among these countries, Botswana is currently leading the way in developing locally based expertise. Throughout the Southern African region, sport, exercise, and performance psychology remain organizationally underdeveloped and unregulated. Local researchers and practitioners in the field face unique challenges, including a multicultural environment and a lack of resources. In working to overcome these challenges, however, they have the potential to significantly add value to the global knowledge base of sport, exercise, and performance psychology.

Article

Women have played complex roles in the history of Southern Africa, a vast region that comprises diverse local histories as well as social and cultural forms. The diversity of the region has been both integrated and fragmented through historical connections, which have centered on South Africa as a subimperial power. Prior to colonial conquest and the impact of Christian missions and European trade, gender relations varied, partly due to an array of social and kinship systems. Overall, however, the position of women in southern African societies deteriorated after colonization. Economic, political, and cultural dynamics impacted on gender relations through the interaction of European and indigenous patriarchy, colonial rule, and capitalist modes of production, which reinforced and transformed one another, evolving into new structures and forms of domination. The paradox of similarities due to settler colonialism and differences in respect of timing and pathways to decolonization impacted upon the trajectories of postcolonial gender politics and the representation of women in the postcolonial political structures of southern Africa. Despite initial differences regarding legal gender equality, everywhere that liberation movements in power established themselves in the region, discourses of “African culture and tradition” became pertinent. Colonial customary laws and powers given to traditional leaders remain at the heart of contemporary battles over gender equality and social justice.

Article

Precipitation levels in southern Africa exhibit a marked east–west gradient and are characterized by strong seasonality and high interannual variability. Much of the mainland south of 15°S exhibits a semiarid to dry subhumid climate. More than 66 percent of rainfall in the extreme southwest of the subcontinent occurs between April and September. Rainfall in this region—termed the winter rainfall zone (WRZ)—is most commonly associated with the passage of midlatitude frontal systems embedded in the austral westerlies. In contrast, more than 66 percent of mean annual precipitation over much of the remainder of the subcontinent falls between October and March. Climates in this summer rainfall zone (SRZ) are dictated by the seasonal interplay between subtropical high-pressure systems and the migration of easterly flows associated with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. Fluctuations in both SRZ and WRZ rainfall are linked to the variability of sea-surface temperatures in the oceans surrounding southern Africa and are modulated by the interplay of large-scale modes of climate variability, including the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Southern Indian Ocean Dipole, and Southern Annular Mode. Ideas about long-term rainfall variability in southern Africa have shifted over time. During the early to mid-19th century, the prevailing narrative was that the climate was progressively desiccating. By the late 19th to early 20th century, when gauged precipitation data became more readily available, debate shifted toward the identification of cyclical rainfall variation. The integration of gauge data, evidence from historical documents, and information from natural proxies such as tree rings during the late 20th and early 21st centuries, has allowed the nature of precipitation variability since ~1800 to be more fully explored. Drought episodes affecting large areas of the SRZ occurred during the first decade of the 19th century, in the early and late 1820s, late 1850s–mid-1860s, mid-late 1870s, earlymid-1880s, and mid-late 1890s. Of these episodes, the drought during the early 1860s was the most severe of the 19th century, with those of the 1820s and 1890s the most protracted. Many of these droughts correspond with more extreme ENSO warm phases. Widespread wetter conditions are less easily identified. The year 1816 appears to have been relatively wet across the Kalahari and other areas of south central Africa. Other wetter episodes were centered on the late 1830s–early 1840s, 1855, 1870, and 1890. In the WRZ, drier conditions occurred during the first decade of the 19th century, for much of the mid-late 1830s through to the mid-1840s, during the late 1850s and early 1860s, and in the early-mid-1880s and mid-late 1890s. As for the SRZ, markedly wetter years are less easily identified, although the periods around 1815, the early 1830s, mid-1840s, mid-late 1870s, and early 1890s saw enhanced rainfall. Reconstructed rainfall anomalies for the SRZ suggest that, on average, the region was significantly wetter during the 19th century than the 20th and that there appears to have been a drying trend during the 20th century that has continued into the early 21st. In the WRZ, average annual rainfall levels appear to have been relatively consistent between the 19th and 20th centuries, although rainfall variability increased during the 20th century compared to the 19th.

Article

Metal production in southern Africa dates to the early first millennium ce when the technology of working iron and copper was brought into the region by incoming “Iron Age” farming communities. The mining and production of copper, iron, and later, tin and gold were important activities in the lives of communities in southern Africa throughout the past two millennia. Not only were metals central to livelihoods, like the iron hoe in farming, but metal objects were also enmeshed in the social and political fabric of society, with the transaction and display of them creating social identities and cementing relationships. The production of different metals varied in space and time, from household production of iron for domestic consumption to more specialized production of iron, copper, and tin or seasonal production of gold. Metals produced in southern Africa were traded over long distances and fed into regional trade networks that expanded to the wider Indian Ocean rim. Copper ingots and iron gongs from central Africa and brass from Europe have also been recovered in southern Africa, indicating the complex directionality with which metals, and the ideas and technological innovations associated with them, flowed. Analyzing patterns in the production and exchange of metals can reveal both micro-shifts in political economy, such as changes in the gendered division of labor, to macro-shifts, such as changing regional political powers. As a result, the archaeology of metal production exposes many aspects of the lives of Iron Age farming communities in southern Africa through time.

Article

Southern Africa’s past five thousand years include significant shifts in the peopling of the subcontinent. Archaeological approaches tend to characterize this period following these changes. This includes the appearance of herding and food production on a landscape that only hosted hunting and gathering, the arrival of new and competing worldviews and settlements systems, the local development of complex and state-level society that involved multiple groups, the arrival and eventual colonization of the region by European settlers, and the segregation, imbrication, articulation, and creolization of various identities. As part of studying this phase, quite often it is viewed as a series of “wholes” that share space and time. These “wholes” are usually identity groups: foragers, herders, farmers, or colonists. While regularly kept separate, archaeological remains and historic records more often indicate inter-digiting and fluid social entities that interacted in complex ways. However, the past is frequently constructed around rigid concepts of people that usually reflect contemporary groups to some extent. Understanding past identities is historically contingent and rooted in contemporary approaches, methods, and frameworks. This is no different in the mid- to late Holocene in southern Africa, which also involves the construction of pasts and people associated with non-colonial communities. The role of identity in how the past is formed has played a significant role in building sequences, interpreting material culture, and assigning change to migrations and movements within the subcontinent. Archaeologists regularly grapple with issues involving identity that include the influence of colonial writings, the impact of social contacts, and the relationship between past and present people. Taxonomizing the archaeological past by following ethnic groups and subsistence practices has led to intense and frequent discussion and debate. The nature of identity, however, is hard to define and relinquish from the influence of Western ontologies of being and community. Archaeologists are therefore forced to orientate themselves betwixt and between the past and the present to more accurately reflect people.

Article

Reviews of southern Africa’s Later Stone Age (LSA) have seen many different iterations. Generally, however, they summarize the technocomplex from its earliest industry until it ceases to be recognizable in the archaeological record, summarizing the variety of research topics, questions, and approaches. Binding much of this together, despite the diaspora of studies, is the use of ethnography to understand past hunter-gatherer lifeways. This resource has guided interpretations of the past and helped design research approaches since the 1970s. And yet, from as early as the 1980s, archaeologists as well as anthropologists have debated the influence ethnography plays in understanding the past. Nonetheless, without it, significantly less would be written of hunter-gatherer prehistory in southern Africa, which includes belief systems, settlement structures, mobility patterns, subsistence habits, and social relations. Using ethnography as a vehicle, it is possible to navigate the LSA pathways created by scholars and examine the aforementioned contributions this knowledge system has made to interpretations of the past. From this vantage, envisioning a future for ethnography within the field is possible. This should involve expanding the ethnographies archaeologists use, moving beyond the Kalahari Desert, creating a diverse group of LSA researchers, and decolonizing the discipline.

Article

How and in what ways did socially complex societies emerge on the East African coast and southern Africa? Scholarship has shown that elite investment in interregional trade and in extractive technologies, monopolization of wealth-creating resources, and warfare may have played a key role in the emergence of early states. To what extent was elite and non-elite engagement in local, regional, and transcontinental economic networks crucial to development of social complexity in eastern and southern Africa? Extensive research on the eastern coast of Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) and southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa) has yielded adequate data to enable a discussion on the trajectories of the evolution of social complexity and the state. So far, three crucial factors: (a) trade, (b) investment in extractive technologies, and (c) elite monopolization of wealth-creating resources coalesced to propel the region toward greater interaction and complexity. Major transformations in the form and increase of household size, clear differences in wealth and status, and settlement hierarchies occurred toward the end of the first millennium ad. Regional scholarship posits that elite control of internal and external trade infrastructure, restricted access to arable land and accumulation of surplus, manipulation of religious ideology, and exploitation of ecological crises were among the major factors that contributed to the rise of the state. Could these factors have also favored investment and use of organized violence as a means to gain access to and monopolize access to information and wealth-creating resources? Scholarship in the 21st century favors the notion that opportunistic use of ideological and ritual power enabled a small elite initially composed of elders, ritual specialists, and technical specialists to control the regional political economy and information flows. The timing of these transformations was continent-wide and date to the last three centuries of the first millennium ad. By all measures, the evidence points to wealth accumulation through trade, tribute, and investment in agrarianism, pastoralism, and mining.