Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series 2019\
Omega: Imagining an Infrastructural World
for a Hybrid Camp.
Formerly, Research Associate, University of the Free State &
Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Vermont
Wednesday 06 March 2019
Anthropology lab, 13h00-14h20
Originally set up as a camp to house refugees from Angola, Omega rapidly transformed itself into a military base for the ‘Bushman Battalion’ and became a showpiece for official tours of the war-zone organized by the SADF. The camp also attracted a bevy of ‘experts’, primarily ethnologists and psychologists, to advise on ‘social engineering’. Using material derived largely from the SANDF Archives and the copious memoir(ial) literature derived from the ‘Bush War’, I analyse how the experts imagined and acted on the camp inhabitants and speculate that this might have had an impact on later counter-mobilization strategies deployed in South Africa.
Robert Gordon is privileged to have divested from laboring and now works. He recently published The Enigma of Max Gluckman: The ethnographic life of a ‘Luckyman’ in Africa and is currently working on a book tentatively entitled: The Grand Delusion: How ‘Native Experts’ field tested Apartheid in a South African colony.