oa Alternation - The Language of the Other

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



It is possible to account for intellectuals both in terms of their contributions to knowledge and as subjects of knowledge. However, one can challenge the narrative of ascendancy, progress and historical continuity that often accompanies the fable of individual genius or secular sainthood2 by asking what conditions of possibility enabled an intellectual to produce a particular knowledge (and no other) at a particular time. This is a question of the 'positive unconscious' and 'historical a priori' of knowledge production. This article aims to focus this problematic onto J.T. van der Kemp's language research in South Africa (1799-1800). He stands as one of the founders of South African indigenous language studies. The challenge is to position his research in terms of the discourse on language prevalent at the time.

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