Publication details [#62583]

Deumert, Ana and Justin Brown. 2017. ‘My tribe is the Hessequa. I’m Khoisan. I’m African’: Language, desire and performance among Cape Town’s Khoisan language activists. Multilingua 36 (5) : 571–594.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
De Gruyter


This paper debates current Khoisan activism in Cape Town, South Africa. Khoisan people's history can be traced back to the early days of the colonial settlement, reproducing the interactions and cohabitation of the indigenous Khoisan, slaves and the European settlers. Today, their main languages are English and Afrikaans; some activists also try to learn Khoekhoegwab. Khoisan activism is argued to express a deep-seated longing for a linguistic, political and cultural identity that is both historically rooted and meaningfully generated in the present. Khoisan activism is a political program and an aesthetic-artistic and heteroglossic performance, and as such enables novel ways of conceptualizing language revitalization.