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  • Preface  ix
    Acknowledgments xiii
    Introduction. The "Rooibos Revolution"  1
    1. Cultivating Indigeneity  29
    2. Farming the Bush  65
    3. Endemic Plants and Invasive People  96
    4. Rumor, Conspiracy, and the Politics of Narration  134
    5. Precarious Landscapes  173
    Conclusion. "Although There Is No Place Called Rooibos"  210
    Notes  217
    References  229
    Index  245
  • Steeped in Heritage is a vivid and insightful account of the complex cultural politics that link people to places via the intermediary of the botanical world (in this case, a scrubby little ‘red bush’). By taking rooibos tea as a window onto our times, it provides an original and enormously illuminating perspective on race and racialization, cultural identity and indigeneity, the globalization of niche commodity markets, and much more. A remarkable book.” — James Ferguson, author of, Give a Man a Fish: Reflections on the New Politics of Distribution

    “This beautifully written ethnography is a major contribution to the literature on commodities. Steeped in Heritage brilliantly brings together the political ecology of a commodity with an astute analysis of the intersection of land-based politics and questions about race, labor, and spatial and economic belonging.” — Paige West, author of, From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea

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  • Description

    South African rooibos tea is a commodity of contrasts. Renowned for its healing properties, the rooibos plant grows in a region defined by the violence of poverty, dispossession, and racism. And while rooibos is hailed as an ecologically indigenous commodity, it is farmed by people who struggle to express “authentic” belonging to the land: Afrikaners, who espouse a “white” African indigeneity, and “coloureds,” who are characterized either as the mixed-race progeny of “extinct” Bushmen or as possessing a false identity, indigenous to nowhere. In Steeped in Heritage Sarah Ives explores how these groups advance alternate claims of indigeneity based on the cultural ownership of an indigenous plant. This heritage-based struggle over rooibos shows how communities negotiate landscapes marked by racial dispossession within an ecosystem imperiled by climate change and precarious social relations in the postapartheid era.

    About The Author(s)

    Sarah Ives is a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University.
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