27 October, 2020

South Africa Diary

Historian-anthropologist Saurabh Dube on his stint with South African town of Stellenbosch and how walking through the mountains there proved productive for his book.

South Africa Diary
Settling: In Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is a beautiful town, held as though in a glass bubble. It is caught in an uncanny warp, a vortex even, of snarled space and twisted time, which turn upon each other. Stellenbosch is set amidst the hills of the Cape Winelands, a mere 50 kilometres or so from the haunting (and haunted) Cape Town. The stunningly gorgeous region, which produces some of the finest wines of the world, is home to slavery, indenture, apartheid, democracy, and after. Put differently, these terrains embody the contradictions, contentions, and contingencies of modernity.

Late in the Antipodean winter of 2013, I was a fellow for three months at the spectacular Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Studies, commonly known as STIAS, aka Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Salads, something of a measure of the local envy for the place. My principal project there had begun as a history and anthropology of my high school class from Modern School...



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