n English in Africa - The Universal and the Local : the Trickster and the /Xam Narratives

Volume 35, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0376-8902



Not surprisingly, considering that they comprise so rich a record of the language and orature of a culture that has all but disappeared, the materials that resulted from the combined efforts of Wilhelm Bleek, Lucy Lloyd, and /Xam informants such as //Kabbo, Dia!kwain and /A!kungta in the 1870's, have generated growing scholarly, artistic and popular interest. Among the body of academic work that has been produced in response to the collection is some that seeks to closely analyse the materials themselves as texts. The study of the figure of /Kaggen, the Mantis, has been central to the project of interpreting the /Xam narratives. Although critics differ about his role in /Xam narratives and /Xam culture, the characterisation of /Kaggen as the /Xam trickster is reproduced in all the writing on him. This article seeks to question this reading of /Kaggen. Instead of an approach that identifies /Kaggen as the local representative of a universal type, I will argue for an interpretation that locates /Kaggen within /Xam discourse itself.

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