The 3rd Session of African Studies Lecture Series: Tradition, Integration and Change | Changes of Indigenous Anthropology in Africa: The Case of Two Traditions of South African Anthropology

On the afternoon of April 29th, 2021, the 3rd session of African Studies Lecture Series “Tradition, Integration, Change” was held at Conference Room 205 of the Central Main Building, with the theme of “Changes of Indigenous Anthropology in Africa: The Case of Two Traditions of South African Anthropology”. The event was delivered by Prof. Wang Haowu, Assistant Research Professor of The Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), to doctorate candidates and research professors at Institute of International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU), in addition to some online external participants.

In this lecture, Prof. Wang reviewed the evolution of indigenous anthropology in South African in five historical stages, by illustrating two traditions of anthropology in South Africa, namely social anthropology based on English and Volkekunde based on Afrikaan. Prof. Wang kicked off the lecture with the characteristics of anthropology in South Africa before the formation of the discipline and the historical background at that time. Later, starting from the birth of social anthropology and Volkekunde, he presented the development process and differences between these two academic traditions in the 1920s and 1930s. Next, he briefly reviewed the changes and breaks of social anthropology and Volkekunde and their developments in the post-apartheid era. He pointed out that social anthropology and Volkekunde gradually drifted away during the apartheid period and finally broke away, which have built up their own academic communities respectively. In the post-apartheid era, social anthropology and Volkekunde eventually ended decades of division and entered a new stage of collaborative development. Prof. Wang concluded with his own thoughts on the concept of indigenous anthropology and stressed that the development of indigenous disciplines shall not be constrained by the origins of academic traditions.
At the end of the lecture, Prof. Wang had heated interactions and discussions with online and offline participantson the exchange of South African scholars, the relationship between academic research and real-time political changes and whether anthropology is interdisciplinary in South Africa.

Prof. Wang Haowu is Assistant Research Professor at The Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Director of Chinese Society of World Ethno-National Studies, who hold a PhD in Anthropology granted by Minzu University of China in 2019. From 2015 to 2017, he was a visiting scholar at the Center for African Studies at the University of Cape Town. His research interests cover cultural anthropology, urban anthropology, history of anthropology and overseas ethnography. His publications include “The Formation and Continuation of South African Townships: Also on the Residential Patterns of Urban Ethnic Groups”, “Colored People’s Townships in Cape Town and Their Bottom State”, “Academic Thinking on the Return of Aboriginal Art” and “Rereading Argonauts of the Western Pacific from the Perspective of Ethnographic Writing”.

Text by: Wang Zijing
Typesetting by: Wang Zijing
Reviewed by: Dong Hui