Social Responsibility and Power I: J.T. van der Kemp’s Interventions For and on Behalf of the Khoikhoi on the Eastern Cape Frontier (1801 – 1806)

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Johannes A Smit

Abstract

In a previous article, I have traced Van der Kemp’s link to the British anti-slavery network, argued that his position on the exploitation of the Khoi paralleled his views on slavery, and that his civil rights activism for and on behalf of the Khoi mirrored his anti-slavery advocacy (cf. Smit 2016b). In this article, I continue my analysis of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century archive which Van der Kemp formed part of, and here focus on Van der Kemp’s interventions for and on behalf of the Khoi (1801 – 1806) and power. My hypothesis is that starting with Van der Kemp, the interventions of Christian missions vis-à-vis the governments and the frontier settler farmers, and later beyond the frontier, on behalf of indigenous people, were the manifestations of late eighteenth and nineteenth century ‘social responsibility’. As indicated in my topic, such taking up of ‘social responsibility’ includes the ‘power’ or more particularly, in Foucault’s terminology, the colonising ‘power effects’ of the missions on indigenous people. In this article I consecutively provide some background related to twentieth century, as well as late eighteenth and nineteenth century notions of ‘social responsibility’, Van der Kemp’s change of plans to not continue with mission work among the Xhosa but to switch to the Khoi, and his and his fellow missionary James Read’s interventions for and on behalf of the Khoi asserting their ‘freedom’ and their ‘civilisation’. For these focuses, I mainly draw on Van der Kemp’s correspondence from his extant South African texts. For ‘power’ or ‘power relations’ and ‘power effects’ in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, I draw on the theoretical and discursive historical studies by Michel Foucault1.

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How to Cite
Smit, J. (2017). Social Responsibility and Power I: J.T. van der Kemp’s Interventions For and on Behalf of the Khoikhoi on the Eastern Cape Frontier (1801 – 1806). Alternation Journal, (19), 12-44. Retrieved from https://journals.ukzn.ac.za/index.php/soa/article/view/841
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